Day 1 Coverage of Grand Prix Paris 2014

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The letter D!ay One of Grand Prix Paris 2014 is in the books. And what a day it was! We saw amazing Magic being played by some of the world's best and brightest, and we saw the Legacy format at its best. 1,587 hopefuls entered the tournament but only 186 of them managed to escape the first nine rounds with scores of 7-2 or better.

Among them, Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Kasper Euser, Maxime Gilles, Philipp Schönegger, and Gregorio Soriente lead the field overnight with unblemished records of 9-0. Close behind in the standings, however, are players like Andreas Ganz, Elias Klocker, and Carlos Moral, all on 8-1, and 7-2s like Joel Larsson, Alexandre Darras, Pierre Dagen, (25) Christian Calcano, Marijn Lybaert, and Jan van der Vegt certainly can't be discounted either. It's going to be an interesting day tomorrow, when the players race to the finish line, when the Top 8 will be decided, and when, finally, a new champion will be crowned.

Join us then, both on text and video, as we bring you all the action, all the excitement, and all the tech straight from the battlefield. Until then, from Paris, we wish you a good night!


  • Saturday, 9:29 a.m. – The Legacy Format in 32 Sentences

    by Tobi Henke

  • With in excess of 20 years of Magic sets to pick from, the number of viable decks in Legacy is mind-boggling. Since there are so many, let's just get started, shall we?

    RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold – This long-time favorite runs 18 lands including four Wastelands which are hardly ever used for mana production, manages to get by with the help of Brainstorm and Ponder, adds further disruption in Stifle, Daze, and Force of Will plus a little firepower in Lightning Bolt, and kills with cheap threats like Delver of Secrets, Nimble Mongoose, and Tarmogoyf.

    Stoneblade – On the control side of the aggro-control spectrum, this deck features Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull, Umezawa's Jitte, and usually one Sword of somethong-or-other along with Swords to Plowshares in white, a few counterspells, the ubiquitous Brainstorm, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Snapcaster Mage, and True-Name Nemesis as an equipment bearer in blue, and mosten often adds black for a bit of discard, sometimes Lingering Souls, or the odd Vindicate.

    BUG Delver – Also called "Team America," the deck resembles its red-blue-green counterpart, but uses Deathrite Shaman instead of Nimble Mongoose to go a little higher on the mana curve, enabling more potent disruption like Hymn to Tourach and Abrupt Decay as well as stuff like Tombstalker and Liliana of the Veil.

    Storm – This deck's game usually starts with a library manipulation and/or discard spell, next are mana rituals and artifacts like Lion's Eye Diamond and Lotus Petal, then comes Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish, Ad Nauseam or Past in Flames to continue chaining spells, and finally there's Tendrils of Agony or Empty the Warrens for the killing blow, which can be dealt as early as turn one!

    Sneak and Show – This deck's goal is to get a fast Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the battlefield via Show and Tell and/or Sneak Attack, and it uses Brainstorm and Ponder to find its combo parts, some countermagic to protect them, and some combination of Ancient Tomb, Lotus Petal, and City of Traitors for additional speed.

    Miracles – One of the few true control decks of the format, this white-blue build includes a lot of the staples of the format like Force of Will and Swords to Plowshares, but also enlists, together with Brainstorm and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, the help of Sensei's Divining Top to get full mileage out of Terminus, Entreat the Angels, and Counterbalance.

    UWR Stoneblade/Delver – Rather new to scene, this hybrid retains the low land count and spell focus of other Delver of Secrets decks while adding a somewhat smaller Stoneblade package with just two equipments and two copies of True-Name Nemesis along with four Stoneforge Mystics, for a total of ten creatures.

    Jund – Based on the time-honored strategy of putting all the best green, red, and black cards into one deck, the list here includes Bloodbraid Elf, Dark Confidant, Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, Abrupt Decay, Punishing Fire plus Grove of the Burnwillows, Hymn to Tourach, Thoughtseize, and Liliana of the Veil.

    Elves – The deck quickly busts out a lot of Elves with particular help of Gaea's Cradle and the Heritage Druid/Nettle Sentinel combination as well as the Wirewood Symbiote/Elvish Visionary combination, can draw an insane amount of cards with Glimpse of Nature in one big combo turn, and/or kill quickly by searching up Craterhoof Behemoth with Natural Order.

    Goblins – Here, Æther Vial or Goblin Lackey lead the way for, among others, Goblin Warchief, Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Matron, and Goblin Ringleader, while Wasteland and Rishadan Port disrupt the opponent's mana.

    Merfolk – The deck basically consists of a few counterspells, a set of Æther Vials, and a whole lof of fish like Lord of Atlantis, Master of the Pearl Trident, and Merrow Reejerey which pack quite a punch.

    Death and Taxes – A white weenie deck with Wasteland plus Rishadan Port, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Phyrexian Revoker, and Aven Mindcensor for disruption, Æther Vial, Flickerwisp, and Mother of Runes for protection, and Stoneforge Mystic and Mirran Crusader for the beats.

    Imperial PainterAncient Tomb, City of Traitors, and Simian Spirit Guide enable an explosive opening, Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, and Red Elemental Blast offer disruption, Sensei's Divining Top and Imperial Recruiter offer some card selection, and Grindstone, in combination with Painter's Servant, dumps the opponent's library for the kill.

    Maverick – Traditionally a green-white beatdown deck with a creature toolbox searchable via Green Sun's Zenith and a land toolbox searchable via Knight of the Reliquary, nowadays Maverick almost invariably splashes red for the Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire combo.

    Pox – A mono-black deck that heavily attacks both the opponent's mana as well as hand with Wasteland, Sinkhole, Smallpox, Inquisition of Kozilek, Hymn to Tourach, and Liliana of the Veil, leaving a minimum of slots to provide the actual kill with Mishra's Factory and a couple of Nether Spirits and Cursed Scroll.

    Nic Fit – A black-green-blue midrange deck with a lot of variety that combines Cabal Therapy and Veteran Explorer to ramp into creatures larger than what one usually sees cast in Legacy.

    Omni-Tell – This takes the shell of Sneak and Show (see above) but leaves out most of the creatures and Sneak Attack in favor of Omniscience, Dream Halls, and Enter the Infinite.

    ReanimatorCareful Study or Entomb bins a big creature like Griselbrand for Reanimate or Exhume to get it onto the battlefield, while Force of Will, Thoughtseize, and/or Daze offer disruption/protection.

    Tin Fins – A reanimator deck with an even faster kill, which reanimates Griselbrand via Shallow Grave or Goryo's Vengeance, draws a bunch of cards, attacks, draws more cards, summons Children of Korlis to gain yet more life/extra cards, and finishes the opponent with mana artifacts/rituals and Tendrils of Agony.

    Dredge – Playing mostly from the graveyard, this deck first needs to dump a dredge card like Golgari Grave-Troll per Careful Study, Faithless Looting, or Putrid Imp, then dredges and dredges more with Breakthrough or Cephalid Coliseum, eventually getting a bunch of Narcomoebas and Ichorids back from the grave, along with free copies of Cabal Therapy and Dread Return, creating a Zombie army via Bridge from Below.

    Belcher – Running as little as one Taiga as its only land, this deck instead uses Elvish Spirit Guide, Simian Spirit Guide, mana artifacts like Chrome Mox or Lotus Petal, and all kinds of mana rituals, from Rite of Flame to Pyretic Ritual, to either cast Empty the Warrens or cast and activate the eponymous Goblin Charbelcher, killing on turn one or two.

    Allspells – Similar to Belcher, here a player only needs four mana to cast/activate either Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer, dumping all of their library, which in turn triggers Narcomoebas, enables the casting of Cabal Therapy and Dread Return to reanimte Angel of Glory's Rise and, with it, Laboratory Maniac plus Azami, Lady of Scrolls to win the game.

    High Tide – This mono-blue engine combo deck generates a lot of mana with the help of its namesake card and untap spells like Turnabout and—in different versions—Time Spiral or Reset, draws a lot of cards with Meditate, and kills with Brain Freeze.

    Lands – There are a couple of different decks running Life from the Loam and upwards of 30 lands including Maze of Ith, The Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale, Wasteland of course, Dark Depths, and Thespian's Stage, one with Exploration and Manabond, one with Mox Diamond, Smallpox, Liliana of the Veil, and an Entomb-powered toolbox for the likes of Raven's Crime and Punishing Fire.

    Shardless BUG – This black-blue-green aggro-control deck's mana curve runs higher than BUG Delver's for planeswalkers Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, eschewing most countermagic for the eponymous Shardless Agent to cascade into Ancestral Vision set up by Brainstorm.

    BUG Control – One step further, then, is this deck which drops all creatures and Ancestral Vision in favor of more counterspells, more planeswalkers, Pernicious Deed, Innocent Blood, and Standstill.

    EnchantressArgothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence, along with Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl, build the basis for this old-time favorite, which aims to build an impenetrable fort with Sterling Grove, Solitary Confinement, or Moat, then win via Sigil of the Empty Throne or Rest in Peace/Helm of Obedience.

    BurnGoblin Guide, Chain Lightning, Flame Rift, Fireblast, Price of Progress, Sulfuric Vortex, and its ilk make for one very straightforward strategy.

    UR Delver – The many flavors of Delvers also include this two-color version which usually employs Grim Lavamancer, sometimes Young Pyromancer and True-Name Nemesis and more burn than its red-blue-green counterpart.

    Affinity – Normally, Arcbound Ravager and Cranial Plating deliver the beats only in Modern but sometimes the robots rear their heads in Legacy too, and here they can even draw upon the power of Seat of the Synod and Co.

    Infect – In Legacy, Glistener Elf, Inkmoth Nexus, and Blighted Agent can be boosted not just with the more modern cards Might of Old Krosa and Vines of Vastwood but also, for example, with Invigorate and Berserk.

    MUD – Often completely colorless, the deck starts with City of Traitors or Ancient Tomb, drops Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere for early defense, then ramps into unfair stuff via Grim Monolith or Metalworker, finishing with Wurmcoil Engine, Sundering Titan, or Kuldotha Forgemaster for Blightsteel Colossus.

    And that's a wrap. The 32 most likely candidates to be played this weekend are listed above, but still there's more. Some players may choose the combo deck named for its centerpiece Aluren, for example, some may dust off what is considered to be an out-dated archetype in Stax, and some may do weird stuff with Rest in Peace/Energy Field/Helm of Obedience. Moreover, in Legacy even a shift of a few cards, what elsewhere would be a minor variation, can create a new decktype, and of course there's always the possibility for major innovation as well.

    In any case, it's going to be an interesting tournament to watch!


  • Saturday, 10:55 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winners

    by Tobi Henke

  • As is tradition, the weekend started on Friday with a number of Grand Prix Trials, the last chance for players to earn two byes for the Grand Prix and the first chance for us to get an impression of how the field may look like at this Legacy event. The following is a sampling of 24 decklists whose pilots went 5-0 to win one of these Trial tournaments.

    Sylvain Grolleau
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Timo Schünemann
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Lucas Romay
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Stuart Andrew
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Hove Thiessen
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Jesus Vicente Sanchez
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Alexis Martinez
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Geoffrey Larvor
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Marc Vogt
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Omar Rohner
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Ruben Delgado
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Mathieu Deloly
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Maciej Fidzinski
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy

    Jonas Kozak
    Grand Prix Trial Winner – Legacy


  • Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - World Travelers, Part I

    by Olle Rade

  • With Pro Tour Born of the Gods just a week away, some players have opted to prepare by playing the Grand Prix here in Paris. American Melissa DeTora, along with a few other Atlantic travelers, is part of French Team Revolution. She arrived in Paris on Monday and have been testing with her team ever since. She already feels that she has a good grasp of the format of the Pro Tour. But more importantly, she have adjusted to the time difference.

    "I think I finally beat it. It took me four days, but now I'm all set to play both here and in Valencia next weekend," she says.

    Melissa DeTora and Vidianto Wijaya

    DeTora admits that she was hoping to keep testing Modern, rather than worrying about Legacy, but with everyone else on the team opting to play, she fell for the peer pressure. She even got her entire 75-card deck list handed to her by fellow team member, and Legacy expert Vidianto Wijaya. Her own focus lying elsewhere.

    "I'm more excited about the Pro Tour next weekend, where I hope to do well. My goal is to make the top 25, since I am pretty low on pro points this season."

    23-year-old Australian Justin Robb qualified for Pro Tour Born of the Gods by winning Grand Prix Brisbane last October. His trip to Paris is not only his first time in France, but his first time in Europe. "It's great to be here. I arrived a few days early and have been to a few of the sights in Paris already," he says, hoping to do more sightseeing the days after the Grand Prix.
    With so few Australians qualified, his testing has been done mainly on Magic Online. And while waiting for the new bannings, and Born of the Gods to be available online, his focus has been on traveling.

    Justin Robb

    "I am playing here in Paris, then heading to Valencia for the Pro Tour, and when everyone else is headed to Barcelona for the team Grand Prix I am going back to Australia to play standard at the Grand Prix in Melbourne," he explains.

    So Legacy, Modern, Born of the Gods booster draft and Standard on the menu for the young Australian. With four different formats over the course of three weekends. What is he most excited about?

    "Playing the Pro Tour of course, but also meeting all the people that I have just talked to online, or know through streaming. It's been really awesome so far, and I hope to meet a lot of more nice people in Spain"

    Several other interesting players have made the trip to Paris this weekend, and we'll make sure to find out how they are preparing for the Pro Tour. Both in Magic and in logistics.


  • Saturday, 1:44 p.m. – Metagame of the 40

    by Tobi Henke

  • "So what are you playing?" is pretty much the standard of polite small talk this morning, the question players have been asking each other over and over during the early rounds of the tournament. We've done some snooping too, and can already tell you what decks some of the bigger names in the room are playing. Well, we could, but we don't want to spoil anyone's fun, so we're just going to give you a deck archetype breakdown.

    6 UWR Stoneblade/Delver
    6 BUG Delver
    6 Storm
    3 Death and Taxes
    3 Elves
    3 WUBG Deathblade (Stoneblade splashing green for Deathrite Shaman)
    2 BURG Delver
    2 Miracles
    2 Sneak & Show
    2 Stoneblade
    1 Maverick
    1 Merfolk
    1 Omni-Tell
    1 RUG Delver
    1 UR Delver

    These are the decks played by the following group of people, including a Hall of Famer, several Pro Tour and Grand Prix champions, and also known Legacy experts like Thomas Enevoldsen, Fabian Görzgen, or Julian Knab who won the Bazaar of Moxen tournament here in Paris three months ago.

    Bastos, Frederico
    Björklund, Rasmus
    Bonde, Michael
    Brunner, Christopher
    Calcano, Christian
    Dagen, Pierre
    Damo da Rosa, Paulo Vitor
    Darras, Alexandre
    Deltour, Louis
    DeTora, Melissa
    Dezani, Jérémy
    Enevoldsen, Thomas
    Fortier, Remi
    Ganz, Andreas
    Görzgen, Fabian
    Gregoir, Christophe
    Guthmann, Yann
    Knab, Julian
    Kaschapow, Marcel
    Klocker, Elias
    Koch, Florian
    Krautmann, Wenzel
    Kuo, Tzu Ching
    Larsson, Joel
    Li, Bo
    Lippi, Alessandro
    Mackl, Valentin
    Mayer, Manuel
    Moral, Carlos
    Portaro, Alessandro
    Robb, Justin
    Romanchuk, Alexey
    Schultze, Max
    Schünemann, Timo
    Shrout, Andrew‏
    Sim, Chapman
    Sommen, Pierre
    Thiel, Michael
    Thießen, Hove
    van der Vegt, Jan


  • Saturday 2:00 p.m. – The Agony of Choice

    by Olle Rade

  • Legacy is a format where there are literally hundreds of decks to choose from and personal preference plays a big part in picking one. We asked some of the players what deck they are piloting and why they decided on that particular deck.

    Andrew Shrout

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Kentucky, USA

    Death and Taxes

    "First of all it is a deck that I actually have access to, which isn't always guaranteed in Legacy. Also I think it's the best "fair" deck of the format. And among the non-combo decks it has the best game against combo decks. I don't really have a preference for a certain type of deck. I like to mix it up and if I get a chance to play a new deck, i'll take it."

    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Taipei,Taiwan

    Sneak and Show

    "This is actually my first ever Legacy tournament. And since I don't have any idea about the format or what deck to play I chose a combo deck. That way I could test by playing it solitaire on my own."

    Marc Beckkönig

    Age: 21
    Hometown: Århus, Denmark

    UWR Miracles

    "I though about what True-Name Nemesis has done to the format and I think Miracles is the best deck to fight the ones that take advantage of the Nemesis. Also I've always liked control decks, and playing a game where you are in control after the first critical turns is something I really know how to do."

    Quintus van de Geer

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Zwolle, The Netherlands

    "Blood Delver"

    "It's a Delver deck, that is also built around Death's Shadow. With Street Wraith, Gitaxian Probe, Snuff Out and Watery Grave I deal damage to myself to make Death's Shadow big. I've been playing Magic for a very long time, but I always play my own decks. This is the result of over two years of testing the format and the first time I play the deck in a tournament.

    Per Niklasson

    Age: 31
    Hometown: Helsingborg, Sweden


    "I started playing reanimator before Grand Prix Strasbourg last year. I expected a lot of combo decks and it is the best combo deck against other combo decks. If personal preference would be the deciding factor I would play Bant for 15 more years, but this is very much a metagame choice. In a big unknown meta I want to play something that has a strong game plan and that is good against combo. Reanimator does some very unfair things and allows you to draw a crazy amount of cards, and in the end doing that is why we all play Magic, isn't it?"

    Anja Rønning

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Trondheim, Norway


    "It is simply the deck I have played the most. This is my second Grand Prix with Jund, I played it to a 4-3 finish last year in Strasbourg. For me the most important thing when picking a deck is to play something that I feel secure with. And in Legacy that is Jund since I have played it a lot."

    Baptist Matthys

    Age: 33
    Hometown: Ghent, Belgium

    Shardless BUG

    "I like control decks, since they are the ones I've had the most success with. I've been playing Shardless BUG for two or three years now and although it might not be the best deck in the format anymore it is certainly in the top 5. It plays only good cards, and for every turn that passes in a game your chances of winning increases. It might not be as good as BUG Delver, but I really dislike tempo decks and I rather aim to beat them than play one myself."


  • Round 4 Feature Match - Jamie Parke vs. John-Joseph Wilks

    by Olle Rade

  • As a true format of old Legacy also brings some faces from Magic's past back to the tournament scene. Round four saw American Jamie Parke with two Pro Tour top 8's to his name against Briton John-Joseph Wilks. Still early in the day, both players could call themselves undefeated with 3-0 records.

    Jamie Parke vs. John-Joseph Wilks

    "I have to say, I was not expecting a feature match. You must be well known?," asked John-Joseph Wilks politely.

    "Once upon a time I was," answered Jamie Parke, confessing that his glory days were at the end of last century.

    Parke was piloting Stoneblade with Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique in addition to Stoneforge Mystics and equipments. Wilks was on UWR Stoneblade/Delver with True-Name Nemesis. Although he might as well have been playing mono Blue as the match played out.

    The first game was a display of the newly printed Commander card's strength against an opponent caught off guard. Jamie Parke opened with Thoughtseize, revealing all Counterspells and cantrips for the Briton, making him feel confident about tapping out on turn three to recast a Ponder with Snapcaster Mage.

    Wilks answered with a True-Name Nemesis on his turn, and five attacks later Jamie Parke was reaching for his sideboard. Hoping that two copies of Zealous Persecution would be able to handle True-Name Nemesis better in the following games.

    Nemesis vs. Equipment

    The second game also came down to True-Name Nemesis. Nemesis number one was sent to the bottom of Wilks library with a Vendilion Clique. Nemesis number two was swept by a Supreme Verdict. But after an extremely long and complex game Wilks third True-Name Nemesis was able to hold off Jamie Parke's only offense in the form of a Germ Token equipped with both Batterskull and Sword of Feast and Famine long enough for time to be called in the round.

    On his last extra turn Parke searched for answers to it with two Brainstorm, but couldn't find any. He extended his hand in concession of not being able to win in time, and the match ended 1-0 to John-Joseph Wilks advantage.

    "I'm sure I made a few mistakes along the way, please let me know if you saw any," said Wilks after the match, explaining how this was one of his first Legacy matches ever played.


  • Saturday, 4:00 a.m. – World Travelers, part II

    by Olle Rade

  • It's not every day you get to write about yourself, but this time quite a few of us coverage reporters are also playing at Pro Tour of the Gods next weekend. Together with Matej Zatakaj, Simon Göertzen I am already in the midst of preparing for the Pro Tour. In fact, everyone in our testing group who play Legacy are here in Paris, either doing coverage, or like Joel Larsson, playing. His weekend however, could have started better.

    Joel Larsson

    "First I lost my VISA card somewhere at the airport in Stockholm. Then I got a terrible migraine as I landed in Paris last night, and to top things off my taxi dropped me half an hour away from the site," he says, with a big frown.

    Some of the people in the test group, like Denniz Rachid and Elias Watsfeldt are already in Valencia, house sitting the teams apartment and testing Born of the Gods on Magic Online. Splitting up the team is a solution that several other teams, like ChannelFireball also have opted for. Not letting Legacy divert their energy and attention from Modern and Born of the Gods. The exception is Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, who is the lone ChannelFireball:er in attendance in Paris.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

    "The others know that I don't have the option of going to 20 Grand Prix a year like they do, so it's okay for me to skip a few days of testing to play here," he explains.

    Being surprisingly absent from the Grand Prix scene lately Paulo says he's very excited to be back "on the road" playing Magic and meeting friends again. "I haven't missed the 20-hour flights, but it's great to be back playing again," he says.

    With a week of draft practice in the Czech republic behind him, he is also confidant he won't be unprepared when Pro Tour Born of the Gods starts Friday morning.


  • Saturday, 5:00 p.m. – Side Eventing at Grand Prix Paris

    by Olle Rade

  • What would a Grand Prix be without it's multitude of exciting side events? French organizers Bazaar of Moxen are somewhat of the uncrowned kings of side events. And this weekend is no exception. Events are ranging from the "Bazaar of Lovers", a two headed giant tournament, to the "Bazaar of Boxen" a standard win-a-box. Throw in the infamous Chaos draft with boosters from different expansions ranging all the way back to Revised edition and players who aren't playing in the Grand Prix itself are having at least as fun on the sidelines.
    "What we wanted to do this weekend was to recreate something like the Magic Weekend we ran here in Paris in November. With tournaments in all formats, so those who don't play Legacy can also come and enjoy the weekend," says tournament organizer Kevin Desprez.

    Tournament Organizer Kevin Desprez is happy with the turnout this weekend.

    Which is why he didn't hesitate to put the starting time of a sealed deck tournament gathering over 100 players at the same time as the Grand Prix itself. He also says that in France Bazaar of Moxen have been running events for a long time, and people know that there will be good prizes in them.
    "That is the spirit of the Bazaar of Moxen," says Kevin Desprez.

    And the players seem to agree with him. If there is a world record in how many Grand Prix trials you can squeeze in the night before a Grand Prix it was surely broken last night, as over 40 Legacy trials were played. And those who didn't have to get up early in the morning enjoyed all night drafts and standard 8-man.

    Booster boxes from the infamous Chaos Drafts, that are run as side events at most Grand Prix.


  • Round 5 Feature Match - Timo Schünemann vs. Luca Rozza

    by Tobi Henke

  • Two years ago, at the Legacy Grand Prix in Ghent, it was Timo Schünemann from Germany who ended up hoisting the champion's trophy. While he surely wouldn't mind a repeat performance, at this tournament, after two byes, he started with a win and a loss. Facing him this round was Swiss player Luca Rozza, likewise 3-1 after two byes.

    Rozza was playing UWR Delver, Schünemann once again brought his trusted Storm deck, basically the same that had got him his Grand Prix title in 2012. In this match-up, Rozza would have to walk the tightrope of applying pressure with his small creatures while also keeping Schünemann's combo in check with his counterspells. Schünemann, however, would do his best to power through any such defenses with the help of Duress and Gitaxian Probe/Cabal Therapy.

    Game 1

    The game started with Delver of Secrets for Rozza, who then lost most of his spells to the deadly combination of Gitaxian Probe and a pair of Cabal Therapy. This left him with just a Spell Pierce for defense. Duress took that one too, but Schünemann was not yet ready to attempt his combo, instead settling for Sensei's Divining Top.

    Meanwhile, Insectile Aberration and a Lightning Bolt took Schünemann to 8 and a Wasteland blew up one of his lands. Rozza's Gitaxian Probe revealed a hand of Lion's Eye Diamond, Cabal Ritual, and Infernal Tutor, not yet quite enough for Schünemann to start his engine.

    Luca Rozza

    At 5 life, it was time for Schünemann to make a move, though, and a bit of Sensei's Divining Top action did actually provide him with the necessary tools. Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor for Lion's Eye Diamond, then two Lion's Eye Diamonds, more Infernal Tutor, Past in Flames, more rituals, Duress, and Infernal Tutors followed, then Tendrils of Agony sealed the deal

    Game 2

    Schünemann started with a mulligan, Rozza with a Delver of Secrets. This time, Schünemann had no early discard spells and Rozza had two Spell Pierces, enough to use one on his opponent's Brainstorm. To make matters worse, Rozza took a peek at Schünemann's hand via Gitaxian Probe and saw the way was clear for Meddling Mage which he cast and set to forbid Infernal Tutor.

    With Rozza tapped out, Schünemann still saw his chance, casting Brainstorm and Ponder to shuffle away two Infernal Tutors, Lotus Petal, and Carpet of Flowers. At the beginning of his turn's second main phase, Carpet added two mana to his pool; he cast Brainstorm ... and then a frown. He passed the turn.

    Rozza attacked for 5 again, cast Rest in Peace, and Schünemann, knowing what cards were stuck on top of his library, conceded.

    Game 3

    This time it was Rozza's turn to mulligan. He began the game with five cards in hand—two lands, Lightning Bolt, Daze, and Red Elemental Blast—but by the end of turn one was already down to four, thanks to Schünemann's Duress on Red Elemental Blast.

    Timo Schünemann

    A couple of Brainstorms later, Schünemann made his first attempt at combo, but Rozza had drawn another Daze and a Spell Pierce, and countered with the latter. His Gitaxian Probe then revealed a Lion's Eye Diamond, Duress, Infernal Tutor, and Cabal Ritual in Schünemann's hand.

    Next turn, Schünemann cast Cabal Ritual and, in response, sacrificed his third land, a Polluted Delta, for threshold. An interesting line of play, considering he still knew about the Daze in Rozza's hand, and Daze did indeed stop the Ritual. After this exchange, Schünemann took Rozza's second Daze with Duress, though, leaving his opponent completely defenseless.

    The turn after, Infernal Tutor searched up a second Lion's Eye Diamond, then two Lion's Eye Diamond were cast and sacrificed in response to a second Infernal Tutor for Past in Flames. This quickly elicited a concession from Rozza.

    Timo Schünemann 2-1 Luca Rozza


  • Round 6 Freature Match - Thomas Enevoldsen vs. Grégory Leloup

    by Olle Rade

  • Only one player gets the honor of calling himself the European Grand Prix champion every year. Coming off his reign as the winner of Grand Prix Strasbourg last year Enevoldsen is that person, clearly not the dream opponent when playing for 6-0. "Not only is he a very good player, but I know which deck he is playing, and it's going to be tough for me," said his opponent Grégory Leloup.

    Enevoldsen was playing his beloved Death and Taxes deck. Or as he likes to call it, Mono White Control. Leloup was playing a Black, White and Green "Junk" deck, with tons of spot removal and Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic for card advantage.

    The Match

    One life, one mana and one revealed card from Dark Confidant, that's how close the match turned out. The first game looked to be an easy victory for Leloup when a pair of Dark Confidants allowed him to draw enough removal to keep all threats off the table. The only problem? The damage from the Confidants was close to killing him. On the last turn he needed to attack for lethal he found himself on 5 life facing two triggers from Dark Confidant. The first one revealed Liliana of the Veil, dropping him to 2, and the other ...

    Grégory Leloup vs. Thomas Enevoldsen

    ... Bayou, and it was 1-0 to the Frenchman.

    "I changed my deck from last year, exchanging Red for White, and they have worked really well," commented Leloup between games, still not confidant of his chances.

    The second game was a removal fest from the fast paced Frenchman. Even without Dark Confidant powering his draws he took out most of Enevoldsen's creatures. When Enevoldsen finally stuck a Flickerwisp it was a race between that and Leloup's two Deathrite Shaman, unable to be activated due to a Rest in Peace.

    Leloup dropped to 1 before drawing another removal spell, looking like he might take the match. But Enevoldsen was not long after. The remaining Deathrite brought the Dane down to 1 life as well, before he drew his final card. Luckily, it was another Flickerwisp, that he could sneak into play with an Æther Vial, removing Leloup's attacking Shaman for a turn and then attack for lethal on his turn.

    "Close match so far, just like in Strasbourg," commented Leloup when shuffling for the final game.

    "We play decks that tend to have close games," replied Enevoldsen.

    The final game was decided by mana. After removing Leloup's Stoneforge Mystic it was a race between creatures from Enevoldsen against Leloup reaching 5 mana to cast the Batterskull fetched by the Mystic. Wasteland after Wasteland and three copies of Rishadan Port however, kept the Frenchman from the crucial 5th land, while he failed to draw enough removal for Enevoldsen's threats.

    Thomas Enevoldsen moves to 6-0 and only needs one more win to proceed to play on day two, and maybe another the title as Grand Prix Champion.

    He kept me off 5 mana so I couldn't cast the Batterskull. It was very close. 1 life away the second game, and one mana the third game.

    Grégory Leloup vs. Thomas Enevoldsen


  • Round 7 Feature Match – Fabrizio Anteri vs. Christophe Gregoir

    by Tobi Henke

  • Neither of these players is a stranger to the spotlight of the feature match area. Belgium's Christophe Gregoir has a Grand Prix as well as a Pro Tour Top 8 from a couple of years back, while Fabrizio Anteri made it to the Top 4 of two Grand Prix last year. This time, however, they met with scores of 4-2 each, needing three straight wins to even clinch a Day 2 berth!

    The match-up here was Elves, played by Gregoir, versus Anteri's Storm. Both combo decks are capable of killing within the first three turns, but where Elves offers a little more resilience and can win in various ways, Storm is clearly ahead in pure speed. This, of course, bodes ill for Gregoir.

    Christophe Gregoir

    Game 1

    Anteri went first, but Gregoir had the first play in Deathrite Shaman. Then Anteri's Gitaxian Probe revealed another Deathrite Shaman, Heritage Druid as well as Crop Rotation and two Green Sun's Zeniths in Gregoir's hand. Zeniths and Crop Rotation were quickly discarded with two copies of Cabal Therapy, though.

    With his hand thus demolished, Gregoir made some Elves, but those were getting nowhere, while Anteri had all the time in the world to set up his combo. Preordain, a pair of Lotus Petals, a pair of Lion's Eye Diamonds, and Infernal Tutor for Past in Flames sealed the deal.

    "Just show me Tendrils of Agony," Gregoir asked, and Anteri happily obliged.

    Fabrizio Anteri

    Game 2

    Unfortunately, Gregoir was forced to mulligan seven cards which included some sideboarded discard spells, and was left with the rather slow start of Llanowar Elves on turn one, Dryad Arbor and Scavenging Ooze on turn two.

    Still more unfortunate, Anteri had a turn-two kill.

    Fabrizio Anteri 2-1 Christophe Gregoir

    When asked about the six-card hand he kept, Gregoir explained that it wasn't great but, "It did have a turn-three Natural Order."

    "What do you get with that?" Anteri asked. "I'm sorry. I don't know the format very well." Gregoir showed him Ruric Thar, The Unbowed. Anteri was impressed. "Yup, that would have been game."


  • Saturday, 7:25 p.m. – Of Cats and Fae

    by Tobi Henke

  • At next weekend's Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia, Wild Nacatl and Bitterblossom are poised to make a big comeback to the Modern stage. The format this weekend may be Legacy, but Faerie tokens as well as one very special Cat have still made an appearance in the feature match area here in Paris.

    Grand Prix champions Florian Koch and Wenzel Krautmann, for example, were both running a copy of Bitterblossom in the main deck of their BURG Delver. As Koch explained, "in Legacy, players will oftentimes trade off all of their business spells; there's so much disruption flying about, and when the smoke clears the Faeries simply take over." He particularly stressed its usefulness against Miracles, saying, "Of course they can buy time with a couple of Terminus and hope to resolve a big Entreat the Angels eventually, but realistically they just can't beat Bitterblossom." Wenzel Krautmann chimed in to agree: "In all of my matches so far the card really was great. More people should play it."

    Meanwhile, Thomas Enevoldsen found, in Brimaz, King of Oreskos, a new addition for his beloved Death and Taxes. He already used that deck to win the last European Legacy Grand Prix and, at the time of writing, was sitting somewhat comfortably at 6-1. 1/1 creature tokens, whether Faerie Rogues or Cat Soldiers, are apparently all the rage nowadays.

    Another Born of the Gods card, while missing from Enevoldsen's deck, found its way into many other Death and Taxes lists. In a format where Brainstorm, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, and Preordain seem to be everywhere, Spirit of the Labyrinth can be quite the beating, especially when it ambushes unsuspecting opponent's via Æther Vial. Two-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Manuel Mayer was full of praise for the Spirit. "And I only managed the Vial ambush once, but still I wouldn't want to miss the card," Mayer pointed out. He too was 6-1 playing the white-weenie strategy.

    Sometimes, developments in Legacy come about rather fast—the adoption of Deathrite Shaman or True-Name Nemesis are recent examples—but usually the format with its long history of well-established archetypes moves quite slowly, and change is gradual and often comes in the form of minor tweaks, a few cards added here, a little innovation there. Faeries, Cats, and Spirits clearly are an example of the second kind of development.


  • Round 9 Bubble-Match Round-Up

    by Olle Rade

  • The last round of the first day is always the first big crowd pleaser at a Grand Prix. Big names fighting to make day two, big names making day two and big names failing to make day two. It's hard to follow all the action, but we caught a glimpse of some of the matches where a ticket for tomorrow was on stake.

    Michael Bonde (Stoneblade) vs. Gaël Bailly-Maitre (Elves)

    Michael Bonde

    Danish all around good guy Michael Bonde was fighting for his tournament life in the last round. And he was in for a rough one. After splitting the first two games against his French Elves opponent his turn two Stoneforge (fetching Umezawa's Jitte) was matched with a Natural Order fetching Progenitus. Bonde drew for his turn, passed, took 10 from the gigantic monster and crossed his fingers in his next draw step. A big smile on his face gave it away though, he had the answer in a Supreme Verdict, wiping the entire board, leaving his opponent with no creatures and only two lands in hand. The rest was a formality, and Michael Bonde and his 1-of Supreme Verdict makes day two.

    Michael Bonde wins 2–1

    Melissa DeTora (UWR Stoneblade/Delver) vs. Guglielmo Baldelli (Omnitell)

    Guglielmo Baldelli vs. Melissa DeTora

    Melissa DeTora was looking in good shape to make day two after her fast Delver of Secrets backed up by countermagic took the first game from Italian Guglielmo Baldelli. His sideboard plans begged to differ though. Both post board games saw him cast an early Defense Grid allowing him to resolve Show and tell. In game two he went for the flashy win with Omniscience into Enter the Infinite (eventually winning by fetching Release the Ants with Cunning Wish, putting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on the top of his deck and recurring Release the Ants. Game three he simply put an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play, and that was enough to win the match,

    Guglielmo Baldelli wins 2-1

    Thomas Enevoldsen (Death and Taxes) vs. Nuno Miranda (BUG Delver)

    Thomas Enevoldsen vs. Nuno Miranda

    The grandfather of Death and Taxes, and winner of last years European Legacy Grand Prix Thomas Enevoldsen was also fighting for survival on the last round of the day. Unfortunately his opponents Delver deck had some pretty strong draws. In game one he counter Enevoldsen's Æther Vial with Force of Will, cast Delver of Secrets, Dazed Enevoldsen's Swords to Plowshares and attacked 5 times while Enevoldsen was stuck on just one land. Game two was equally swift as Mother of Runes and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben couldn't match up against Tarmogoyf into True-Name Nemesis from the Portugese.

    Nuno Miranda wins 2-0

    Jamie Parke (Stoneblade) vs. Marijn Lybaert (UWR Stoneblade/Delver)

    Jamie Parke vs. Marijn Lybaert

    In the battle of Stoneforge Mystics it was Belgian Marijn Lybaert who turned out to have the upper edge, as his True-Name Nemesis proved too hard to deal with for American Jamie Parke. When both players have Batterskull in play it seemed very hard to lose the race when equipping it to a True-Name Nemesis and being able to both block and nullify your opponents life gain.

    Marijn Lybaert wins 2-0

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