gpmon14

Day 2 Coverage of Grand Prix Montreal 2014

  • Print

The letter D!raft!

The call of the judge keeps time for competitors that have returned for Day 1 of Grand Prix Montreal. What started as a Canadian Grand Prix record of 1,622 players has been pared down to just 170. Among them are 7th-ranked Shahar Shenhar, 11th-ranked Alexander Hayne, and multiple Grand Prix Top 8 competitors David Ochoa and Gerard Fabiano - the latter who went undefeated on Day 1 alongside Daniel Fournier, Michael Ando, Philip Dettelis, and Geoff Risi.

What lies in store today? Six rounds of Born of the Gods-Theros-Theros Draft stand between the start of Round 10 and a final draft at Top 8. Tune in for live coverage at twitch.tv/magic starting shortly after 10 AM local time.

Will you be watching when history is unwrapped?











 

  • Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

    by Adam Styborski

  • Geoff Risi – White-Red
    Grand Prix Montreal Day 1 Undefeated

    Main Deck

    40 cards

    Mountain
    Plains

    17 lands

    Borderland Minotaur
    Brimaz, King of Oreskos
    Cavalry Pegasus
    Deathbellow Raider
    Elite Skirmisher
    Forgestoker Dragon
    Kragma Butcher
    Loyal Pegasus
    Oreskos Sun Guide
    Phalanx Leader
    Pharagax Giant

    13 creatures

    Bolt of Keranos
    Chosen by Heliod
    Divine Verdict
    Excoriate
    Hammer of Purphoros
    Lightning Strike
    Pinnacle of Rage
    Revoke Existence
    Titan's Strength

    10 other spells

    Sideboard
    Abhorrent Overlord
    Agent of the Fates
    Anvilwrought Raptor
    Archetype of Finality
    Arena Athlete
    Ashiok's Adept
    Boon of Erebos
    Cavern Lampad
    Charging Badger
    Culling Mark
    Divination
    Ephara's Radiance
    Epiphany Storm
    Evanescent Intellect
    Fated Return
    Felhide Brawler
    Fleshmad Steed
    Floodtide Serpent
    Forsaken Drifters
    Gorgon's Head
    Griptide
    Horizon Scholar
    Last Breath
    Leafcrown Dryad
    Mnemonic Wall
    Necrobite
    Nemesis of Mortals
    Nylea's Disciple
    Nyxborn Wolf
    Ordeal of Erebos
    Pharika's Mender
    Pheres-Band Raiders
    Reap What Is Sown
    Satyr Hedonist
    Satyr Rambler
    Scourgemark
    Scouring Sands
    Sedge Scorpion
    Servant of Tymaret
    Setessan Battle Priest
    Setessan Starbreaker
    Shredding Winds
    Siren of the Silent Song
    Snake of the Golden Grove
    Spark Jolt
    Spellheart Chimera
    Sphinx's Disciple
    Sunbond
    Traveling Philosopher
    Triton Shorethief
    Vaporkin
    Viper's Kiss
    Vulpine Goliath
    Warriors' Lesson
    Yoked Ox

    60 sideboard cards



    Philip Dettis – White-Red
    Grand Prix Montreal Day 1 Undefeated

    Main Deck

    40 cards

    Mountain
    Plains

    17 lands

    Akroan Hoplite
    Ember Swallower
    Forgestoker Dragon
    Leonin Snarecaster
    Minotaur Skullcleaver
    Nyxborn Rollicker
    Nyxborn Shieldmate
    Oreskos Sun Guide
    Ornitharch
    Spirit of the Labyrinth
    Traveling Philosopher

    13 creatures

    Bolt of Keranos
    Chosen by Heliod
    Fall of the Hammer
    Glimpse the Sun God
    Gods Willing
    Mortal's Ardor
    Ray of Dissolution

    9 other spells

    Elspeth, Sun's Champion

    1 planeswalker

    Sideboard
    Annul
    Artisan's Sorrow
    Aspect of Hydra
    Benthic Giant
    Boon of Erebos
    Borderland Minotaur
    Boulderfall
    Cavern Lampad
    Chronicler of Heroes
    Claim of Erebos
    Colossus of Akros
    Deepwater Hypnotist
    Divination
    Drown in Sorrow
    Epiphany Storm
    Eye Gouge
    Fate Unraveler
    Felhide Minotaur
    Flamecast Wheel
    Graverobber Spider
    Gray Merchant of Asphodel
    Griptide
    Hold at Bay
    Karametra's Favor
    Lash of the Whip
    Marshmist Titan
    Messenger's Speed
    Mischief and Mayhem
    Mnemonic Wall
    Nessian Courser
    Nullify
    Nyxborn Eidolon
    Nyxborn Triton
    Nyxborn Wolf
    Pheres-Band Raiders
    Pillar of War
    Ragemonger
    Raised by Wolves
    Retraction Helix
    Satyr Hedonist
    Satyr Rambler
    Scholar of Athreos
    Scourgemark
    Sentry of the Underworld
    Shredding Winds
    Spellheart Chimera
    Stratus Walk
    Stymied Hopes
    Swordwise Centaur
    Tormented Hero
    Triton Fortune Hunter
    Two-Headed Cerberus
    Vanquish the Foul
    Vaporkin
    Viper's Kiss
    Wavecrash Triton

    61 sideboard cards



    Daniel Fournier – Blue-Red
    Grand Prix Montreal Day 1 Undefeated

    Main Deck

    40 cards

    Island
    Mountain

    17 lands

    Chorus of the Tides
    Deepwater Hypnotist
    Ember Swallower
    Everflame Eidolon
    Flitterstep Eidolon
    Kragma Butcher
    Meletis Charlatan
    Omenspeaker
    Prescient Chimera
    Shipbreaker Kraken
    Siren of the Fanged Coast
    Stormcaller of Keranos
    Wavecrash Triton

    15 creatures

    Bolt of Keranos
    Coordinated Assault
    Dissolve
    Dragon Mantle
    Fall of the Hammer
    Fearsome Temper
    Searing Blood
    Titan's Strength

    8 other spells

    Sideboard
    Akroan Hoplite
    Boulderfall
    Cavern Lampad
    Chorus of the Tides
    Commune with the Gods
    Crypsis
    Dauntless Escort
    Disciple of Phenax
    Elite Skirmisher
    Ephara's Radiance
    Eye Gouge
    Fade into Antiquity
    Fate Foretold
    Felhide Brawler
    Feral Invocation
    Flamecast Wheel
    Fleetfeather Sandals
    Gild
    Gods Willing
    Gorgon's Head
    Gray Merchant of Asphodel
    Griffin Dreamfinder
    Guardians of Meletis
    Karametra's Favor
    Kragma Warcaller
    Lagonna-Band Elder
    Lost in a Labyrinth
    Loyal Pegasus
    Marshmist Titan
    Mindreaver
    Mortal's Ardor
    Mortal's Resolve
    Nyxborn Shieldmate
    Opaline Unicorn
    Peak Eruption
    Pharika's Cure
    Pheres-Band Tromper
    Pillar of War
    Priest of Iroas
    Ragemonger
    Reckless Reveler
    Returned Phalanx
    Satyr Wayfinder
    Scouring Sands
    Servant of Tymaret
    Setessan Oathsworn
    Shipwreck Singer
    Silent Artisan
    Staunch-Hearted Warrior
    Sunbond
    Swordwise Centaur
    Thassa's Bounty
    Traveling Philosopher
    Whims of the Fates
    Witches' Eye
    Yoked Ox

    60 sideboard cards



    Gerard Fabiano – Red-Green Splashing Blue
    Grand Prix Montreal Day 1 Undefeated

    Main Deck

    40 cards

    Forest
    Island
    Mountain
    Temple of Mystery
    Temple of Triumph

    17 lands

    Archetype of Aggression
    Mistcutter Hydra
    Nessian Courser
    Nylea's Emissary
    Nyxborn Rollicker
    Nyxborn Wolf
    Reckless Reveler
    Satyr Hedonist
    Satyr Nyx-Smith
    Sedge Scorpion
    Thassa's Emissary
    Thunder Brute
    Voyaging Satyr
    Wild Celebrants
    Xenagos, God of Revels

    15 creatures

    Fearsome Temper
    Lightning Strike
    Nylea's Presence
    Rage of Purphoros
    Savage Surge
    Steam Augury
    Sudden Storm
    Traveler's Amulet

    8 other spells

    Sideboard
    Anvilwrought Raptor
    Archetype of Courage
    Aspect of Hydra
    Benthic Giant
    Bile Blight
    Coastline Chimera
    Crypsis
    Culling Mark
    Decorated Griffin
    Deepwater Hypnotist
    Defend the Hearth
    Dissolve
    Drown in Sorrow
    Epiphany Storm
    Evanescent Intellect
    Eye Gouge
    Fate Unraveler
    Flamecast Wheel
    Fleetfeather Sandals
    Fleshmad Steed
    God-Favored General
    Great Hart
    Griffin Dreamfinder
    Grisly Transformation
    Hold at Bay
    Impetuous Sunchaser
    Kraken of the Straits
    Leonin Snarecaster
    Loathsome Catoblepas
    March of the Returned
    Mindreaver
    Mogis's Marauder
    Necrobite
    Nullify
    Odunos River Trawler
    Omenspeaker
    Ordeal of Thassa
    Peak Eruption
    Pharika's Cure
    Priest of Iroas
    Read the Bones
    Retraction Helix
    Revoke Existence
    Satyr Rambler
    Satyr Wayfinder
    Scholar of Athreos
    Scourgemark
    Servant of Tymaret
    Setessan Griffin
    Stratus Walk
    Stymied Hopes
    Sunbond
    Triton Shorethief

    58 sideboard cards



    Michal Ando – White-Black
    Grand Prix Montreal Day 1 Undefeated

    Main Deck

    40 cards

    Plains
    Swamp

    17 lands

    Agent of the Fates
    Akroan Skyguard
    Cavern Lampad
    Elite Skirmisher
    Hopeful Eidolon
    Leonin Snarecaster
    Nyxborn Shieldmate
    Observant Alseid
    Odunos River Trawler
    Ornitharch
    Sentry of the Underworld
    Spiteful Returned
    Vanguard of Brimaz

    15 creatures

    Asphyxiate
    Chosen by Heliod
    Glimpse the Sun God
    Mortal's Ardor
    Ordeal of Erebos
    Scourgemark

    8 other spells

    Sideboard
    Agent of Horizons
    Akroan Crusader
    Akroan Hoplite
    Anthousa, Setessan Hero
    Asphyxiate
    Benthic Giant
    Bronze Sable
    Burnished Hart
    Chorus of the Tides
    Deathbellow Raider
    Defend the Hearth
    Destructive Revelry
    Dragon Mantle
    Ephara's Warden
    Evanescent Intellect
    Fate Foretold
    Fearsome Temper
    Floodtide Serpent
    Guardians of Meletis
    Hold at Bay
    Karametra's Favor
    Kragma Butcher
    Labyrinth Champion
    Lash of the Whip
    Lost in a Labyrinth
    Loyal Pegasus
    Marshmist Titan
    Minotaur Skullcleaver
    Mischief and Mayhem
    Mogis, God of Slaughter
    Mortal's Resolve
    Nessian Asp
    Nyxborn Wolf
    Ordeal of Nylea
    Phenax, God of Deception
    Pheres-Band Tromper
    Plea for Guidance
    Portent of Betrayal
    Priest of Iroas
    Ray of Dissolution
    Read the Bones
    Rise to the Challenge
    Satyr Piper
    Setessan Oathsworn
    Setessan Starbreaker
    Shredding Winds
    Stratus Walk
    Thassa's Bounty
    Thassa's Emissary
    Thassa's Rebuff
    Unravel the Æther
    Voyaging Satyr
    Wavecrash Triton
    Weight of the Underworld
    Wild Celebrants
    Yoked Ox

    61 sideboard cards





     

  • Born of the Gods First Picks #1 – David Ochoa and (8) Josh Utter-Leyton

    by Adam Styborski

  • Choosing the first pick of a pack can set the stage for a strong draft, or send you tumbling down the road of tough decisions. On Day 2, every player starts with the choice of one of fourteen Born of the Gods cards. Though some may certainly be easy, choosing the best card possible from a pack can be tougher than it looks.

    Here's a fresh cracked pack of Born of the Gods. Think carefully a moment and make your pick.


    What did you choose? We caught up with David Ochoa and 8th-ranked Josh Utter-Leyton to get their thoughts on the pack.

    "You're more likely to end up playing it," Ochoa explained after immediately grabbing Retraction Helix. "Bile Blight and Vanguard of Brimaz are both good, but it's less likely you'll be able to play them if you get forced out of your color. If the color of the card you took her is getting drafted to your right, ideally you'll still want to be able to play it. With Helix it's possible to be in blue and still play a ten some land, seven Island mana base."

    Is it really that simple? Ochoa seemed to believe that. "It's basically a pick between Helix and Blight, but Helix is more versatile. It can deal with creatures that have already been bestowed, unlike Blight that can only deal with smaller creatures. Blue's a little shallow but it's got the most flexible spells."

    Would Josh Utter-Leyton take a different pick? "I'm not going to take the red card out of the pack, so it's between Blight and Helix. I think I'd go with Blight," Utter-Leyton said.

    Success!

    "Actually, I think I'd rather go with the Helix," he tragically continued after a moment's more thought.

    Why did Utter-Leyton make the switch? "Blight is double black. I'm a lot more likely to play the Helix in your deck," he explained, echoing Ochoa. "There's three base colors in this format: White is the best, then black, then green. Blue is a support color, but the best blue cards are the best support cards. Having blue as your support color is really ideal. By taking Blight you're committing to base Black. You can play Helix in a base anything deck.

    So what about Akroan Conscriptor, a card both Ochoa and Utter-Leyton has pulled aside as really powerful? "It's power level is on par with Helix," Utter-Leyton said, "but I'd rather be blue than red. With three red cards in the pack, signaling is a thing. You'll create more red drafters to the left passing these. Theros can't support three red drafters. That's an easy tie-breaker between Conscriptor and Retraction Helix."




     

  • Pack 1, Pick 1 #2

    by Josh Bennett

  • Sometimes the packs are kind, and you sit down to a draft confronted with an obviously busted rare. Most of the time, however, your first pick requires careful weighing of close alternatives. Remember: Your chance at a Top 8 hinges on this decision. No pressure. Click below to see the pack and make your decision.

    You have 40 seconds...

    Ready, Set, Draft! (Click to start and then click on your chosen card)




     

  • Round 10 Feature Match - (7) Shahar Shenhar vs. Valentin Mackl

    by Adam Styborski

  • When you're a three-time Grand Prix champion, reigning 2013 World Champion, and currently ranked 7th in Pro Player standings, what brings you to battle in Montreal?


    Shahar Shenhar was looking for nothing less than a Top 8 here in Montreal.

    "I was staying in Boston," Shahar Shenhar said. "I'm staying with Dave Shiels and friends through the StarCityGames Invitational." The camaraderie and friendship found among pro players is a common theme for those at the top. Making friends not only gives you places to stay as you travel the world, but people to play and pass the time with.

    Facing off against Shahar was another familiar face and world traveler: Valentin Mackl. With three 2013 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, Mackl was still looking for that final breakthrough. With a Limited Top 8 at Grand Prix Valencia, Mackl's skill with booster packs wasn't in question.

    Making another run to a Top 8 would require perfection from both competitors, and losing here likely meant the dream for winning would be over.

    The first game was a constant race. An early Wingsteed Rider and Anvilwrought Raptor gave Shenhar an aerial pair to fly over the defensive creatures Mackl played. However, Mackl bestowed twice upon his Meletis Astronomer to provide a nigh unblockable beatstick to race back.


    Mackl's small fry became a big guy, thanks to bestow.

    Mackl's Gray Merchant of Asphodel put Shenhar to 4 life – Mackl back to 16 – and undid the work of the air force.

    Divine Verdict finally showed itself and Shahar tried to climb back into the driver's seat, but Mackl reset his Merchant with Voyage's End to finish the World Champion off.


    Valentin Mackl was happy with how his draft worked out.

    The second game led off with Shenhar playing small, aggressive creatures again – Favored Hoplite, Leonin Snarecaster, Lagonna-Band Elder – but Asphodel Wanderer and Felhide Minotaur on Mackl's side promised to hold them back.

    Nyxborn Shieldmate buffed Shenhar's Elder to a respectable 4/4, keeping him in the racing position. Agent of the Fates and Meletis Astronomer looked to finally bind up Shenhar's offense, but Glimpse the Sun God forced Mackl to chump away his Astronomer. After bestowing on Agent of Fates – leaving Shenhar with just his buff Lagonna-Band Elder – Mackl ran into Divine Verdict and Fearsome Temper.

    Down to 6 life to Shenhar's 16, Mackl had to do a lot of damage to catch up. Sip of Hemlock off the top put Shenhar down to just Nyxborn Shieldmate, letting Mackl's motley crew of critters take an 8 life chunk out of Shenhar's lead. Without any more creatures to play, Shenhar was quickly overrun with what Mackl had left.

    "So were you here for pro points?" Mackl asked after Shenhar extended the hand.

    "Top 8," Shenhar said.

    "You probably can't make it then, can you?"

    "Probably not."

    "Well good luck anyway," Mackl offered in condolence.

    "Thanks. You too."

    Valentin Mackl defeats (7) Shahar Shenhar, 2-0

    How did his draft go? "I guess pretty well," Mackl said with a smile. "I started off with Phenax, God of Deception. Obviously I tried to be blue-black. I cut off all the black in the first pack – literally picked every black card I saw. In the second pack I got rewarded for cutting black pretty hard. Even though I opened up nothing good I got passed Agent of Fates and Abhorrent Overlord. Then I grabbed some value as well," said Mackl, flashing a Thoughtseize as well.

    "Obviously Gray Merchant of Asphodel is the best card in the deck," said Mackl, fanning a suite of black creatures. With so many ways to rack up devotion to black in his deck there wasn't much room to disagree with Mackl's claim.




     

  • Sunday, 2:00 p.m. - The Ideal Born of the Gods Draft Deck

    by Adam Styborski

  • Born of the Gods Draft has been out for well over a month at our local stores, and almost as long on Magic Online. With a Pro Tour to its name in the books, the environment has had a chance to mature among the game's elite players.

    That's why we caught up with Matt Costa, Grand Prix Baltimore 2012 winner and Pro Tour Dark Ascension Top 8 competitor – among his other premier Magic highlights. We asked a seemingly simple question that cut to the heart of the format: What is the ideal Born of the Gods Draft deck?


    Is Born of the Gods Draft as aggressive as we've been told? Matt Costa believes so.

    "An aggressive, heroic deck slanted towards white – playing eleven or twelve Plains – that's ideally white-blue," Costa answered after thinking a moment. "White is simply the deepest and most powerful color, particularly in Born of the Gods: it has the best commons. It's aggressive, but it's capable of building big creatures to punch through in the late game. At the same time you have to contend with others' ability to make big creatures. Aggressive decks can take advantage of blue cards like Sudden Storm and Griptide. Blue has the best bestow creatures: Nyxborn Triton and Nimbus Naiad."


    Do you think that's what most players think? "I think it's a common perception," Costa said. "Certainly that's the way it felt at the Pro Tour and I imagine the world has already caught up to that."

    Does that affect how drafts bear out? "I think it does to an extent," Costa explained, "but one of the weird things about Born of the Gods is that the overall card quality is low, so the presence of signaling and some of the decision-making isn't there because you run out of playable cards really quick. A lot of the time your draft will actually be determined by what you open with your second pack –Theros."

    "That said I don't think blue's a very good main color in any deck," Costa continued. "I think blue wants to be the lesser of two colors in a deck that's predominantly another color. In general in this format you want your mana to look like ten-seven or eleven-six," Costa said, referring to the distribution of basic lands. "When you're closer to even I think it's representative of a draft that didn't work out right, or was unfocused about the direction you were headed."

    What does Costa mean? "The reason is because hitting your curve is so important. If your mana is split more evenly it's harder to guarantee that you curve out. You want the majority of your creatures in a single color so you can maximize the amount of sources of that color to ensure hitting your curve.

    Why is hitting your curve so important? "It's pretty hard to interact overall," said Costa. "It's really race-oriented format. One of the best way to beat a draw you can't beat is to be faster."

    Coming from a player who loves to cast copies of Jace, Costa's call to curves and aggression shouldn't go unheeded.




     

  • Round 11 Feature Match - Greg Ogreenc vs Brock Parker

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Players

    Greg Ogreenc has come into the public eye this past year thanks to a pair of Grand Prix Top 8s. His draft today is a three-color concoction featuring powerful mythics. Across from him is the venerable Brock Parker, beard enthusiast and Pro Tour Boston 2003 Champion as a member of The Brockafellars (teammates Hall of Famer Huey Jensen and Worlds '99 semifinalist Matt Linde). Parker pulled together a very fast White-Green deck with a diverse suite of tricks.

    The Match

    Parker was first on the board with Soldier of the Pantheon but had no follow-up. Ogreenc played out Bronze Sable to block and a third-turn Last Breath cleared it out. Still Parker couldn't find a decent threat. Ephara's Warden was not made to bash face. Things settled into a position where Ogreenc had Arena Athlete wearing Leafcrown Dryad attacking and Parker declining to block with Nylea's Emissary. He untapped and bestowed Shieldmate on the Emissary and swung all out for seven.


    Brock Parker

    Ogreenc was flooding badly. His only other spells were Mortal's Resolve and Kiora, the Crashing Wave. He played it and fogged the Emissary. Parker's other creatures killed Kiora, but he had nothing to add to the board. Ogreenc drew Snake of the Golden Grove which hit play as a 4/4, and decided to race. Resolve on his Athlete tapped the Emissary to drop Parker to just three life. The bad news was that Parker had been waiting on Mortal's Ardor, which combined with a bestowed Observant Alseid for a huge life swing. Ogreenc's topdecked Stormbreath Dragon was no help, as Parker drew Time to Feed.

    Parker 1 - Ogreenc 0

    Ogreenc seemed torn during sideboarding. He went back to it once, then changed his mind and they were off. Parker opened with a strong sequence of Soldier of the Pantheon, Snarecaster tapping Bronze Sable, and then Elite Skirmisher. Ogreenc dropped Pheres-Band Tromper and tried to hold his ground. Parker thought for a moment, then played Ordeal of Heliod on the Skirmisher, tapping the Sable, and swung with all his creatures. Ogreenc put the Tromper in front of the Soldier. Mortal's Ardor made it a one-for-two.

    The bad news for Parker was that Ogreenc was sitting on Time to Feed. The Sable took one for the team to keep the Skirmisher from getting out of hand. He also summoned Leafcrown Dryad and passed. Parker passed a blank turn, keeping his Snarecaster at home. A Bestowed Noble Quarry forced him to make another bad trade, this time his creature and Acolyte's Reward for the Leafcrown Dryad.


    Greg Ogreenc

    So far, so good for Ogreenc, but his deck had other ideas. The only offence it offered him were some Sedge Scorpions. Parker was likewise short on action, but managed to find a Cavalry Pegasus to bestow Nyxborn Shieldmate onto. Ogreenc was forced to spend Artisan's Sorrow on the Shieldmate to stay level and to desperately dig for his big threats. Two cards went to the bottom, but still he drew brick after brick. Parker matched him for a few turns, but then found Phalanx Leader and Nylea's Emissary, which were enough to take the match.

    Parker 2 - Ogreenc 0


    The Aftermath

    First I sat down with Ogreenc for a post-mortem. My first question was if he had been considering siding out his blue in what looked like a very fast matchup. "Oh absolutely. The problem was, first I sided in Artisan's Sorrow, and if I take out blue there are other changes I'd need to make. My sideboard has a lot of options in it. Then I looked at the clock and we were already down to thirty minutes and [Parker] had presented his deck. I felt I couldn't make the change without going over sideboarding time so I decided to just go with it for game two and make the change in game three."

    I asked him if he had any difficulties thanks to playing three colors and he shook his head. "My mana's actually really good. The only actual blue card I'm playing is Kiora, and my red is very light as well. Only Stormbreath is RR. So I get to play two islands, five mountains, Unknown Shores and still have room for nine forests. And I have Karametra's Favor."

    Later I caught up with Parker to get his take on how the match had gone. "I think I probably played bad. Both games my opening hands were not great. You know, I had all these tricks. I think I could've used them better. The Ordeal play, I don't know."

    I told him that his deck seemed a lot better than it looked early in game one, what with the Last Breath and Ephara's Warden, and he laughed. "Yeah, I've got a couple stinkers for sure. The deck's really good overall, though. I have two Ordeals, lots of good creatures. After pack one I was worried I was going to open Elspeth and Phalanx Leader and have to pass Elspeth. Luckily I only opened Phalanx Leader."




     

  • Sunday, 3:45 p.m. - Draft 1 - (8) Shahar Shenhar

    by Josh Bennett

  • Reigning World Champion Shahar Shenhar is looking to kickstart a year that feels like a sophomore jinx. Despite middling finishes at both Pro Tours, Shenhar hasn't lost his killer instinct, and his spirit remains high. I sat in on his first draft of the day, where his 7-2 record meant he needed a 3-0 to have a shot at Top 8.


    Shahar Shenhar

    Things started off auspiciously. His first pack served up Akroan Skyguard, the set's marquee common. Then came Glimpse the Sun God, one of the best uncommons for aggressive heroic decks, and then a Nyxborn Shieldmate, an ideal turn-three play in a deck full of two-drops. Fourth pick he dipped into a second color for Asphyxiate in a pack whose only other notable card was Archetype of Imagination. "I don't like Archetype at all. Asphyxiate is a good signal that black is open, and I don't mind playing aggressive black-white. In Triple-Theros draft black-white was usually a control deck, but Born of the Gods gives you a lot of strong early plays."

    The white cards seemed to dry up and Shenhar took Odunos River Trawler fifth followed by Fearsome Temper over Weight of the Underworld. "I'm not committed to black-white at this point. I know I'm white. Temper is great in red-white. Weight of the Underworld is not good, and if I do wind up playing black I'll have chances at other inefficient removals like Lash of the Whip." A seventh pick Elite Skirmisher was a good sign that white was the place to be, and the pack wrapped up with some filler cards.

    "At the end of pack 1 I'm still open. I have a core of very good white cards, with a late Elite Skirmisher as a signal that white will be open pack three. I could still end up white-green, white-red or white-black."


    Pack two didn't start off the way Shenhar had hoped. His opening pack had Gods Willing in white, a fine pick but nothing to get excited about, and three great blue cards: Ordeal of Thassa, Thassa's Emissary and Griptide. "I can't take a blue card there. Blue's the one color I know isn't open." Next up was a pack with Boon of Erebos, Thoughtseize, Spearpoint Oread and Divine Verdict. "Again, I'd rather take a fine white card I'm sure I'll play than something in another color. Thoughtseize is hardly a bomb, just a solid card."

    Third pick he considered five cards: Sentry of the Underworld, Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Chosen by Heliod, Scholar of Athreos, and Titan's Strength. "Here I took Chosen by Heliod. My thinking is, if I take Scholar and wind up white-red, that'll be bad. If I take Chosen I can see what comes around." It paid off, as both Scholar and Sentry made the lap. Shahar took the Sentry.

    It hadn't started well, but pack two coughed up a series of winners. Dauntless Onslaught, followed by Wingsteed Rider, and then Favored Hoplite. Shenhar also got late Lagonna-Band Elder and Setessan Battle Priest. This was good, as he was long on spells and short on creatures. "I knew going into pack that I had to prioritize creatures, even with those late pickups."

    Pack 3 should have been a windfall for Shenhar after the setup in the first pack. First up was a pack with no good white cards besides the legendary Anax and Cymede. I asked Shenhar of this was a tough pick.

    "Even at this point, I don't have to play black. I have a few black cards, but my white is good enough that I can afford to switch, especially for a card as powerful as Anax and Cymede." Next he took Arena Athlete over Leonin Snarecaster, the only white creature in the pack. It was more a calculated risk than a full commitment to red. "This was pretty straightforward. If I take the Snarecaster, there's absolutely no way the Athlete comes back. This way I get a shot at two creatures. The risk is worth it even if I abandon red. But I probably won't"

    That was the end of the real decisions. The remaining packs were dismal, and Shenhar could only shake his head as he collected underwhelming curve-fillers like Satyr Rambler and Anvilwrought Raptor. Still, he was optimistic.

    "Obviously pack three was the worst. I'm playing a few suboptimal cards, but I've got fifteen creatures and my spells are great. It sucks having to play Griffin Dreamfinder but even that can get an early Fearsome Temper if I get blown out."

    It wasn't the deck he'd hoped for, but he figured that 3-0 was still a real possibility.




     

  • Drafting Born of the Gods with Undefeated Daniel Fournier

    by Adam Styborski

  • The last undefeated player was as close to Top 8 as you get three rounds out from the end of Swiss. Daniel Fournier had been triumphant so far in Born of the Gods Limited, and we wanted to peek inside the process for the current "King of the Hill" and see how he's been handling the drafts today.


    Daniel Fournier was at the top of the tide of wins, remaining undefeated through both Day 1 and the first draft of Day 2 at Grand Prix Montreal.

    What did you draft at the start of the day?

    "I drafted red-white, not particularly heroic," Fournier said. "Basically I noticed red and white were very open. I like the archetype and it was basically handed to me: I got like an eleventh pick Thunderous Might. I think that cards like top two or top three cards in the set."

    How did that go?

    "In packs two and three I opened Anax and Cymede and was passed a fourth pick Spear of Heliod. It looked like I was the only person at the table in those colors. I worked out well."

    Did you have a plan for the second draft?

    "I had talked with Alexander Hayne before sitting down for the second and he reminded me I 'just' have to 1-2 the draft," Fournier said. "I've never really attempted to do that before – I've never been in the winning position. So I did what I was used to and kept in mind I wanted a consistent deck: one or two colors, not being greedy. Otherwise, I don't like forcing archetypes in a draft."

    And how did that go?

    "Average; a little awkward.," Fournier admitted. "Red seemed open to me in pack one, but red is bad in Theros and very good in Born of the Gods. I'm fairly certain I passed the guy to the left of me into red, and it seemed like I was getting cut very hard. Fortunately I was able to pick up some good blue cards in pack two."

    You had a second pick Mogis, God of Slaughter. Were you tempted at all to go for black-red?


    "I thought about it," Fournier said. "I play black-red in practice, and I lose with it. The card forces you into the black-red strategy that's unfortunately mediocre. Unlike Xenagos, God of Revels and some of the other Gods the static ability isn't as good. Sometimes it's just '2 you.' and it's just mediocre."

    Were you surprised how quickly white and red dried up in the second pack?

    "Not really. The plan was by the end of pack one was to figure out what color was open and being passed to me in pack two. I thought it was white because I was passed Phalanx Leader – I wanted white. But that wasn't the case."

    What led you to commit to blue?

    "Good blue cards were going late. A lot of these packs had Voyage's End, Griptide, and a playable blue creature. With that density I felt it was the best color. Plus you can play a bunch of reasonable blue and red cards and win. Voyage's End is insane."


    Late in pack three you had a choice between Ordeal of Purphoros and Lightning Strike. Why did you go with Ordeal?

    "That was the difficult one," Fournier said. When he saw the pack is had to put it down and think, unlike the rest of his picks throughout the draft. "Generally, I would want the Lighting Strike at that point. I was kind of low on burn spells and burn's good. I think I had two Triton Fortune Hunters and I needed more ways to trigger them. Ordeal of Purphoros is obviously one of the best ways to do that."

    How do you feel about your deck this time?

    "Much less happy than the first one. I couldn't have asked of better first draft. This is like a 6, or maybe a 7. I'm not confident, but I guess it's fine."

    Daniel Fournier went on win Round 13 and secure a Top 8 berth for Grand Prix Montreal.




     

  • Round 13 Feature Match - Daniel Fournier vs. Terrence Dufour

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Players

    Daniel Fournier is a longtime player with plenty of Grand Prix experience under his belt. The sole remaining undefeated player, he's looking to put a bow on an already outstanding weekend by completing the 13-0 sweep, which would lock up a Top 8 berth. He's drafted an aggressive blue-red deck.

    His opponent, Terrence Dufour, is on quite a ride at this, his first Grand Prix. Sitting at 12-1, he just finished a sweep of his first draft. His red-black minotaurs deck decimated his opponents. Now he's playing a more middle-of-the-road deck in the Jund colors.


    Terrence Dufour

    The Match

    Fournier was on the draw, but he came out strong with Deepwater Hypnotist and Two-Headed Cerberus. Dufour's only early play was Read the Bones, hardly suited to dealing with the situation. Things improved with Nylea's Presence into Lightning Strike to take care of the double-striker. Fournier replaced it with a Triton Fortune Hunter. Dufour put shields up with a Nyxborn Wolf bolstered by a Nyxborn Rollicker. The Hypnotist meant that it would only have one power on Fournier's attack, and Dufour made the trade, letting the Fortune Hunter through. Fournier passed on five mana.

    Here things began to go very wrong for Dufour. He aimed Lash of the Whip at the Fortune Hunter, and Fournier punished him with a cantripped Voyage's End. Worse, after Fournier replayed it, Dufour doubled down with a Sip of Hemlock. Fournier turned over a second Voyage's End. Dufour had no action that could overcome that much card advantage, and Fournier quickly took the game.

    Fournier 1 - Dufour 0

    Again despite being on the play, Fournier was the aggressor. He played Satyr Rambler, took four from Minotaur Skullcleaver, then summoned Kragma Butcher. Dufour had no removal in hand and was forced to keep his Skullcleaver at home. He tapped out for Mogis, God of Slaughter and passed the turn.

    Fourier took two, drew his card, and thought. His frown deepened. Eventually he tapped two for Thunderous Might on Satyr Rambler and attacked with both his creatures. Dufour confirmed that the Rambler was a 5/1 and considered his position, then let both creatures through, falling to eleven. Fournier passed back with two mana open.


    Daniel Fournier

    Dufour hoped to turn the race in his favor with Portent of Betrayal, but it was not to be. He stole the enchanted Satyr and swung in. Voyage's End sent Skullcleaver back to his hand. Dufour had also left himself defenseless. Fournier untapped, attacked, and showed him Bolt of Keranos for the win.

    The Aftermath

    With a shrug, Fournier said "Okay maybe this deck IS good."

    "I'm not so sure about mine," said Dufour with a laugh.

    "Well keep winning and hopefully I'll see you in Top 8."

    Now 11-2, Dufour didn't like his chances. "This deck, the cards just didn't come. I wound up having to be three colors and it's not even that powerful." Still, he had his game face on. He shrugged off his loss and got ready for the next round.

    Meanwhile, the pressure was off Fournier. I asked him about his road to 13-0. His Day 1 Sealed had looked quite good from the little I saw of it. "Well it had two bombs and I drew them a lot. Really the deck sort of built itself, it was the only way pool could go. I thought I might 8-1, but I didn't think it could do 9-0. I just never got screwed."

    I asked him about his 3-0 draft deck and his face lit up with a grin. "Oh man, that might have been the best deck I've had in this format. Let me put it this way: I was red-white after Pack 1. In both my other packs I opened Anax and Cymede. I also got a 4th pick Spear of Heliod. The deck was a total gift." By contrast he rated his current deck about a six out of ten.

    I asked if he had anything else to add about making his first Top 8. "I want to make sure that people know: I didn't outplay my opponents. I just ran hotter than the sun."




     

  • To Win and In – Stories from Round 15

    by Adam Styborski

  • One more match win.

    It sounds so simple, but it's an elusive goal players face every Grand Prix Day 2. At Montreal, several players were positioned to carry through to one more Born of the Gods draft in the Top 8. But for each it required victory in the match.

    For some, the match came easier. Morgan Chang and Adam Benn played through two games before Benn decided that Chang should continue on to the Top 8.


    Morgan Chang was overwhelmed with his move to the Top 8.

    Chang was paired down against Benn, so the unexpected concession lifted the feeling at the table. "I'm so grateful," Chang said. This pair down wasn't alone: Andre Boucher-Frappier was similarly situated against formerly undefeated Geoff Risi. Boucher-Frappier had battled back from a two-loss start to be poised for a third draft. In this case, after three quick games that ended with Risi controlling a Battlewise Hoplite with four +1/+1 counters on it, Boucher-Frappier fell.


    Formerly undefeated Geoff Risi stymied Boucher-Frappier's Top 8 hopes.

    On the live coverage stream, Magic Online Community Cup member and streamer Kenji Egashira, also known as NumottheNummy, lit the twitch.tv/magic up as he lost to Benjamin Gomes, putting the latter into the Top 8. This was Gomes's third win-and-in for Grand Prix Top 8. This time, the success story was his.


    Egashira's hat didn't distract Gomes from what he needed to do.

    Also on camera, Dave Shiels used the legendary Daxos of Meletis to claim his third draft over Maxime Dore. Elsewhere, former Pro Tour champion Brock Parker looked to secure his place but lost to Judah Alt, though Parker was hopeful: "I hope my tiebreakers hold up." (Spoiler: They did.)


    Daxos of Meletis earned Dave Shiels another Grand Prix Top 8 appearance.

    Ian Robertson too was in a paired down situation against Terrence Dufour. Going to a third game with Gorgon's Head on Dufour's side against Whip of Erebos and Reaper of the Wilds on Robertson's, it was only a matter of time until scrying and Whipping found a Top 8 lock for Robertson. Sometimes it takes all the time in the round to find the means to victory.

    Being one match away and losing is tough for any player to face, but for those who move on it's a phenomenal moment players were seeking all weekend long. After all, from here it's just "one more draft."




    • Planeswalker Points
    • Facebook Twitter
    • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
    • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
    • Magic Locator