Grand Prix Verona 2013 Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 9:40 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Robert Valerio - Jund Zombies
    Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists

    Maximilian Tassone - Obzedat FTW
    Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists

    Bernhard Lehner - Huminator
    Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists

    Federico Nuzzo - BG Aggro
    Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists

    Anton Karlinski - Zoo
    Grand Prix Trial Winner Decklists


  • Saturday, 10:15 a.m. – From Montreal to Québec to Verona

    by Tobi Henke

  • Three weeks ago a new Standard format debuted at Pro Tour Gatecrash. There, the elite of Magic pro players tried their best to figure it all out and build the strongest deck possible. The big story of that tournament undeniably was Boros Reckoner which quickly shot up the best-seller charts to become Gatecrash's most sought-after card.

    The top eight decks alone included 16 copies, and Tom Martell's winning list, a Sam Black design, not only sported a full set of its own, but was geared in a number of ways to interact favorably (or at least, less unfavorably) with opposing Reckoners. His "Aristocrats" deck featured removal that's not based on damage (Orzhov Charm), creatures with protection (Knight of Infamy), as well as the eponymous duo (Cartel Aristocrat and Falkenrath Aristocrat) which would often sacrifice whatever creature met Boros Reckoner in combat.

    The Pro Tour had set the stage, and Boros Reckoner was the new star of the show, front and center. Or so it seemed.

    Just one weekend later, at Grand Prix Québec City, the tables had already turned; turned on Boros Reckoner, apparently. Four copies in the Top 8, another four when counting the top sixteen? Talk of Boros Reckoner dominance had clearly been premature. What was going on here?

    Going on was Burning-Tree Emissary, or rather going off. The following Reanimator combo deck, build to perfection by Tzu-Ching Kuo and teammates, made it all the way to the finals. Its game plan is remarkably simple: Dump lots of cards into your graveyard via Grisly Salvage, Mulch, Faithless Looting, and even Undercity Informer, then return Angel of Glory's Rise to the battlefield with Unburial Rites, and subsequently all Humans too, netting two mana off Burning-Tree Emissary and exiling the Angel with the help of Fiend Hunter; sacrifice Emissary and Hunter to Undercity Informer to attack the opponent's library, which returns Angel of Glory's Rise and thus Fiend Hunter and Burning-Tree Emissary. Repeat until opponent's library is empty, pass the turn, win.

    Burning-Tree Emissary also played an important role in Nico Christiansen's deck, the one he used to win Grand Prix Québec. With a turn-one Champion of the Parish, Experiment One, or Boros Elite, the combination of Burning-Tree Emissary and Lightning Mauler allowed him to attack for 6 or 7 points of damage on turn two! The appropriately named "Naya Blitz" deck was the story of the tournament. Able to win as early as turn three, the deck by-passed Boros Reckoner by simply being faster, almost like a combo deck itself.

    However, the Naya Blitz deck does have some issues with consistency, and the Human Reanimator deck can be a bit slow. Most of the players I talked to yesterday and this morning here in Verona cautioned against the hype regarding those breakout decks. Blue-White-Red and Jund were still at the top of the list of most expected decks, and results from yesterday's Grand Prix Trials especially the supported the claim of Jund, along with more midrange-oriented Naya decks as well as Esper and Bant Control.

    If anything, the story so far is one of variety. Standard has an unprecedented number of viable deck archetypes at the moment, and likely there's still space left to explore.

    As I'm sure players will do over the weekend, here as well as in Rio de Janeiro.


  • Saturday, 11:11 a.m. – Smiting vs. Healing

    by Tobi Henke

  • One of the most interesting aspects of Magic is seeing decks evolve over time. Sometimes a completely new deck crashes onto the scene, but often development comes in the form of small improvements. Case in point: Loxodon Smiter replacing Centaur Healer.

    Centaur Healer used to be staple in Bant Control. The sizable body and the 3 extra life proved to be an effective early defense, especially against aggressive red decks. But the times are a-changing. Aggro decks nowadays tend to use less burn and rely more on creatures. Consequently, Loxodon Smiter is taking the Centaur slot in an increasing number of Bant decks. As one player put it: "Smiter is better — even, or especially, against aggro."

    And it doesn't stop there. "Healer gets blocked by Restoration Angel and dies; Smiter doesn't. Healer gets discarded by Liliana of the Veil; Smiter enters the battlefield. Healer trades with Flinthoof Boar; Smiter lives. Healer doesn't trade with Boros Reckoner; Smiter does."

    Sounds like a strict upgrade, but it all depends on the metagame of course. If there were no Reckoners or Lilianas around and instead more Searing Spears and Brimstone Volleys, for example, Centaur Healer could still be the pick. Adapting one's deck to a specific metagame, and in doing so influencing said metagame, is the driving force behind the ever-changing nature of the game. And evolution begets more evolution: We're already seeing more and more Mizzium Mortars to deal with Loxodon Smiter and its four-toughness ilk. For now, though, Loxodons everywhere can look forward to doing some righteous smiting.


  • Saturday, 11:15 a.m. – Vendor Talk

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Round 2 is already underway, so that seemed like a good time to check with our vendors on site to learn a little more about the most popular cards this weekend. Would we be able to foresee new trends or some shifts in the metagame?

    First in line was Sara from Twiddle's Keep who was rather quick to piont out that Flinthoof Boar had been the hottest item all day yesterday as well as this morning.

    Other than that, she didn't remember any cards in particular that seemed to be in high demand. Nigel then chimed in and pointed out a card that few expected:

    That was definitely a card we didn't expect to pop up here!

    Let's check with the other vendors if they can confirm that Huntmaster of the Fells is a hot property this weekend!

    My little journey continued at Cartapapa, a shop located in Montpellier in the South of France. Nicolas was able to come up with a top 4 of the most requested cards, so here we go:

    Rest in Peace

    Burning-Tree Emissary

    Boros Reckoner

    Flinthoof Boar

    Asked whether they saw a lot of requests for cards they didn't expect, they admitted that they can't really say so. Apparently the most innovative players were able to keep their best ideas for themselves for the time being, not giving up their advantage of some innovative tech.

    The last thing that caught the attention of Nicolas lied in the fact that many players already packed the Rares they needed to make their decks work, however, they were running short when it came to the Commons and Uncommons.

    Pavlos from the Belgian Outpost Gaming Center told me that Burning-Tree Emissary and Ghor-Clan Rampager proved to be the most popular Uncommons from the latest expansion Gatecrash.

    Other hot sellers included Olivia Voldaren, Pacifism, Flinthoof Boar as well as the various Charms. So while some players seemed to stock up on more aggressive cards, others wanted to get their hands on some answers to be able to stop the bleeding early on.

    Pavlos then added that he also noticed a higher than expected demand in varoius Side Deck cards, e.g. Rolling Temblor, Tragic Slip, Pillar of Flame and Assemble the Legion.

    Our second French vendor this weekend is Magic Bazar from Paris. Stephane, who had been overlooking a lot of the sales yesterday, told me that Bonfire of the Damned proved to be one of their hottest sellers so far. He added that they had already sold more than a whopping 50 copies of Flinthoof Boar!

    Other hot items according to him were Augur of Bolas, Cryptic Command and Stomping Ground.

    The fifth and last shop travelled here from Frankfurt, Germany. Melanie from JK Entertainment said that they had run out of Obzedat, Ghost Council rather fast. Another card they sold extremely well was Huntmaster of the Fels, so there's the connection between the proxy for double-faced cards that Twiddle's Keep sold and the card we expected to pop up frequently this weekend.

    Asked whether they could come up with any possible sleeper cards, they threw Electrolyze in the mix. Several players indicated an interest in the card, something that the vendor didn't quite foresee. Apart from that, they could only come up with more "usual suspects" that did well: Deathrite Shamans and the Gatecrash Dual Lands.


  • Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – The Austrian World Magic Cup Team

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Only a few more months until the World Magic Cup 2013 will take place. The teams are starting to take shape and we wanted to get together with some of the players that will most likely be representing their respective countries. First in line was Austria's own Thomas Holzinger, who you might remember from his Top 8 finish at the Pro Tour Avacyn Restored that took place in Barcelona.

    Holzinger is currently boasting a comfortable lead of more than 16 Pro Points compared to the next Austrian player in line. So it seems like he might end up being the captain of the team for the second year in a row. Let's hear from him.

    "The coolest thing about the World Magic Cup is that you can represent your country together with some friends. I generally enjoy the team format a lot as your teammates can still turn things around when you're not doing so well and you can really feel the team spirit among the group with all of us trying to reach a common goal."

    Thomas Holzinger

    I figured preparation was key in case you wanted to do well at such a high profile event. This is how the Austrian team approached the challenge:

    "Last year, I came over to Vienna as all the remaining members of the team lived in our capital. We put a lot of hours into testing; we tried to assigne roles for every member of the team, so one of us would practise team sealed, building around 40 pools and indicating the various deck archetypes that seemed likely.

    At the same time, two of us played lots of Standard, analyzing the various match-ups while the last member tried to come up with innovations on how to improve the various decks that seemed like viable contenders in the format.

    We also switched roles frequently to double check the results of every part of our group and make sure everyone was well prepared for the various formats."

    This year, the World Magic Cup will come to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. What are your thoughts about the location?

    "In case I'll make the team again, I'll definitely consider travelling there something like 1 or 2 weeks prior to the tournament to prepare on site rather than in Vienna. Then again, you can easily get distracted there; Amsterdam is an amazing city! So I guess I should probably think about this twice before deciding on it..."

    My final question was about this weekend. Did the Austrian pro come prepared?

    "I'm very familiar with the Standard Format. I couldn't quite decide on a Deck for a long time, but then decided to stick with the recommendation of Emanuel Sutor. My experiences with it so far have been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to see how far I can go with it this weekend!"

    Thanks for the quick interview!


  • Saturday, 2:14 p.m. – Talking to Emanuel Sutor

    by Tobi Henke

  • Emanuel Sutor is an up-and-coming player from Germany, or used to be at least. These days, things are mostly looking up for him. He had his breakthrough last year when he made the finals of Grand Prix Lyon, qualifying for his third Pro Tour, in Montreal, where he then finished 11th. Now he's at 23 pro points, optimistic about his chances to get to gold level in the Pro Players Club, and all but set to be the German team captain at this year's World Magic Cup.

    Emanuel Sutor

    "I currently have a seven-point lead over Jonas [Köstler]," Sutor said, "and I travel to more Grand Prix. So, yeah, I think my chances are pretty good." About the World Magic Cup he said, "I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I never had the chance to play in the old World Championships. Also I love team formats. Of course, I hope that the qualifiers will be won by good players and that we'll have a cool team."

    Talking about teams, Sutor attributed a lot of his recent success to the cooperation with American pro players: "All of them and especially Ari Lax had a big part in building our deck for Montreal." There, Sutor ran a Jund aggro deck to a 8-1-1 score, the second best in the tournament.

    His team for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze in San Diego will again include Lax, Alex West, Craig Wescoe, and Gabe Carlton-Barnes, also Joe Demestrio who finished 24th in Montreal, Belgian Mitchell Manders who won Grand Prix Bilbao, and fellow German Andre Müller who has two Pro Tour Top 8s to his name. The Constructed format then will be Block Constructed, but for now back to the present, back to Standard. "Standard is wide open at the moment," said Sutor. "According to MTGO Stats the top four decks are Jund, Naya Blitz, Blue-White-Red, and Esper, but the margin isn't big and I'm not sure how that translates to offline play anyway. Lots of decks are viable. Human Reanimator, for example, is either insane or hated out of the competition."

    As for the deck to play, Sutor said, "Many players I spoke with suggested Jund midrange. But there are no new trump cards to turn the mirror match into your favor. Even Staff of Nin is a known quantity, and has been since at least the PT. I definitely wanted to play some proactive deck and I ended up with something very similar to our PT deck. I hope this'll get me two pro points. Then I'd be on course for Gold level and World Magic Cup."

    Good luck with that!


  • Feature Match Round 4 – Martin Juza vs. Giuseppe Reale

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Facing each other in Round 4 are Giuseppe Reale who you might remember from his Top 8 finish back at the Grand Prix Paris in 2005, the back then largest Magic Limited Event of all times. Things certainly have changed over the course of the last year.

    His opponent is none other than the Czech superstar Martin Juza who's still in the race for the player of the year.

    Reale won the die roll and quickly decided to take a mulligan while Juza kept his opening 7. Reale was the first to make a play with Burning-Tree Emissary on his second turn and he followed it up with Mulch, hitting 2 Lands.

    Juza couldn't quite match that play as he only had Mulch, adding 1 Land to his hand and he took the first damage the following turn. Reale tried to former up the ante with Undercity Informer after sending Burning-Tree Emissary in.

    Juza had another Grisly Salvage, revealing these cards:

    Another Mulch from Reale, adding yet another 2 Lands. He declared attacks with both of his creatures, leaving Juza on 14, dropped another Land and ended.

    Pressure was building up fast on Juza and he had to come up with something. Borderland Ranger provided him with yet more Lands, he then followed it up with Overgrown Tomb and passed.

    Reale gave up his field for the effect of Undercity Informer to send more cards to his graveyard and increase his chances of drawing a non-Land. He then followed it up with Angel of Glory's Rise to bring back all 3 copies of Burning-Tree Emissary and he also added another Undercity Informer.

    Juza found an Angel of Serenity, dealing with the opposing Angel and also exiling Undercity Informer from Reale's field as well as Huntmaster of the Fells from his graveyard. He attacked with Borderland Ranger and ended.

    Play was back to Reale who was left with only a Burning-Tree Emissary. He added yet another Undercity Informer to his field that he found with Grisly Salvage.

    Mulch from Juza got him 2 Lands, he attacked with Angel of Serenity, dealing 5 and that dropped Reale to 13. Once again, he checked his opponent's graveyard and he then added a second Angel of Serenity, this time exiling Angel of Glory's Rise and the remaining 2 copies of Burning-Tree Emissary from Reale's graveyard.

    Suddenly it seemed like Juza was in the driver's seat. Reale seemed a little on the edge, staring down 2 huge Angels that could, so far, attack unhindered in the following round. His hand provided him with an out, though, as he tapped 3 to play Fiend Hunter, exiling Juza's untapped Angel and getting him back his Burning-Tree Emissaries. He followed it up inviting them to his party, attacked with the Undercity Informer and ended.

    After Angel of Serenity took another shot, Juza added Avacyn's Pilgrim. At the end of turn, Reale used the effect of Undercity Informer twice to sacrifice both copies of Burning-Tree Emissary to fill up his graveyard.

    On his following turn, another Angel of Glory's Rise brought back 3 copies of Burning-Tree Emissary, he sacrificed all of them, further filling his graveyard (there were about 40 cards in there by now) and after he also sacrificed his Undercity Informer, he passed play.

    Juza added Restoration Angel before entering his turn.

    Then, he declared attacks with all of his creatures and Reale assigned blockers in the following way:

    Reale was left with only 2 life. However, he found another Angel of Glory's Rise to rebuild his field in grand fashion! He found 4 copies of Burning-Tree Emissary, 2 copies of Fiend Hunter among with 2 Avacyn's Pilgrim and Undercity Informer. He then started to combo off, using the effect of the Undercity Informer to make Juza mill his deck. After the Czech confirmed that his opponent was aware of the exact way the infinite combo was working, he picked up his cards and proceeded with Side Decking.

    Giuseppe Reale 1 - 0 Martin Juza

    20 minutes left in the round and Juza wasted no time, immediately going for the mulligan. Reale followed suit, Juza then announced that he was happy with his second hand, but Reale shuffled his 6 cards in again! He went down to 5 and kept.

    Avacyn's Pilgrim from Juza marked the first play, it dealt the first damage on the second turn and Reale then matched it Burning-Tree Emissary, followed by Faithless Looting.

    Juza passed with no play, but he found Restoration Angel on his opponent's turn after Reale added Fiend Hunter, exiling Deathrite Shaman.

    Juza attacked with Restoration Angel and he added Avacyn's Pilgrim.

    Play was back to Reale, who used Abrupt Decay to get rid of 1 Avacyn's Pilgrim. Juza then had Grisly Salvage, finally finding a fourth Land. He tried to make Reale discard his last card in hand with Duress, but the Italian activated Grisly Salvage in response. Juza now had to check his opponent's graveyard as it had filled up fast once again.

    He played Angel of Serenity on his following turn, which got him back his Deathrite Shaman, he attacked with everything and passed play.

    Reale tried to rebuild, but when Juza announced that he would attack with his flying creatures one more time as well as using the effect of Deathrite Shaman, Reale shuffled up his cards.

    Giuseppe Reale 1 - 1 Martin Juza

    Juza had really picked up the pace in the second game, tying the score in just 10 minutes!

    Reale would go first in the deciding game and after glancing briefly at his hand, he sent it right back. Juza kept and Reale was fine with 6 cards in hand.

    It was Juza who made the first play with Avacyn's Pilgrim, taking 2 from his Overgrown Tomb. Reale matched it with Faithless Looting and Avacyn's Pilgrim on his second turn.

    2 Deathrite Shaman's entered play on Juza's second turn while Reale found Burning-Tree Emissary as well as Undercity Informer.

    Play was back to Reale, who filled up his own graveyard thanks to the effect of Undercity Informer, sacrificing Burning-Tree Shaman. He used Slaughter Games, naming Angel of Serenity, exiling 1 copy from Juza's hand and 3 more from his deck.

    Avacyn's Pilgrim and Undercity Informer dropped Juza to 16.

    Mulch provided Juza with more Lands, he attacked with Avacyn's Pilgrim and ended.

    Reale found a Pilgrim of his own, he sent Undercity Informer in and ended. He was now all out of cards. Deathrite Shaman continued to dish out damage at the end of turn and Juza now wanted to go big!

    He brought back Obzedat, Ghost Council with Unburial Rites. It left the field right away again at the beginning of the end step.

    Reale was now left with only 2 copies of Avacyn's Pilgrim, forcing him to watch Juza do some more dirty work with his 2 copies of Deathrite Shaman and Obzedat, Ghost Council. This caused him to shuffle up his cards.

    Martin Juza comes back from an early loss and beats Giuseppe Reale 2:1

    Both players discussed the match after they finished the last game exactly in time. Juza admitted that he misplayed on his third turn in the last game when he used the effect of his Deathrite Shaman, not expecting a response as he had forgetten about Reale's Avacyn's Pilgrim. In the end it didn't matter, but Juza made a mental note to further increase his chances in the following rounds.


  • Saturday, 3:00 p.m. – Quick Question: What's the most powerful card in Standard?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Gerry Thompson: Sphinx's Revelation.
    Jan van der Vegt: Sphinx's Revelation.
    Raphaël Lévy: Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is the most powerful card. Certainly not the best one, but powerful.
    Shahar Shenhar: Still Sphinx's Revelation. Second choice would be Olivia Voldaren.
    Martin Jůza: Everyone's saying Sphinx's Revelation, aren't they? I say Obzedat, Ghost Council. That card's really, really good!
    Samuel Black: [after thinking very long and hard] Unburial Rites.


  • Saturday, 3:30 p.m. – Italy's Up and Coming Superstar

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Many players have heard about Samuele Estratti, Italy's Pro Tour winner that took down the first ever Modern Pro Tour back in Philadelphia in 2011. However, there's much more talent to be found in Europe's South. I sat down with Matteo Versari, who's currently the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year race.

    Matteo, so far, this seems to be your breakout year. Can you tell us what you're doing differently this season that lead to your newfound success?

    "I play a lot more compared to the past years. Also, I started attending more larger events like Grand Prix' while I had only been playing with Pro Tour Qualifiers before. Even if I don't do so well, it's much more fun to participate in the larger events and I feel you can take a lot more away from them!"

    Matteo Versari lost the first game in round 5; could he still come back?

    Can you give other players that didn't try their luck at the grand stage like a Grand Prix or a Pro Tour some advice on why it's always worth making the trip?

    "The high level of competition is something you only get to experience at the higher level events. Additionally, I was lucky enough to find a lot of friends from all over the world that attend these events. I'm now regularly in touch with some players from Spain to exchange deck ideas and talk strategy and that also helps!

    "It's not like we're just talking about Magic, though. We're sharing what's going on in our lives, so it's a strong friendship that's not just defined solely on Magic: The Gathering. That's what I value even more than the fact that they help me improve my game."

    How did you prepare for the Grand Prix Verona?

    "Ah, you got me there; truth be told, I'm not prepared this weekend!

    "I haven't played a single game in the current format prior to this weekend. A friend handed me a list, it seemed like fun and now I'm giving it my best shot."

    Are you still having fun?

    "Yes, of course! I met 3 brand new faces and they have all been very friendly."

    And in fact he did turn things around! No surprise he's having a blast this weekend!

    What's the best thing about Magic: The Gathering in your opinion?

    "It's hard to tell; there are so many things! Mostly, it's the fact that you can travel the world playing the game and then there's also the sheer depth of the game. You can think about strategies for days and you'll still come up with new ideas!"

    Some great advice coming from one of Italy's rising superstar. We'll definitely continue to keep an eye on Matteo Versari and see how it goes for him this weekend.


  • Feature Match Round 5 – Raphaël Lévy (Wolf Run Bant) vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo (Human Reanimator)

    by Tobi Henke

  • These players hardly need an introduction, Hall of Famer and all-time pro point leader Raphaël Lévy probably even less so than Tzu-Ching Kuo. But Kuo is no slouch either. A Platinum pro with nine Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, he made it to last year's Magic Players Championship as the top rated player from the APAC region.

    Game 1

    Lévy started on a tapped Temple Garden, Kuo had Stomping Ground and Faithless Looting, discarding an excess land and Unburial Rites. Over the following turns, Lévy played Glacial Fortress, Sacred Foundry, and another Temple Garden, but never cast any spells.

    Meanwhile Kuo had Farseek, then Mulch and Grisly Salvage. On turn four, he cast a second Faithless Looting and discarded Angel of Glory's Rise, the last missing piece of the puzzle. Kuo pointed Unburial Rites at the Angel; Lévy nodded and picked up his cards in concession.

    Raphaël Lévy 0-1 Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Game 2

    This time it was Kuo's turn to take things slow, while Lévy opened on Farseek and had a rush-order on Thragtusk. After a Mulch, Kuo only made his second spell of the game on turn four: a Huntmaster of the Fells.

    Lévy attacked with Thragtusk and passed the turn to Kuo who apparently forgot about his Huntmaster's darker side. Kuo cast Undercity Informer and used that to sacrifice his Wolf token after blocking Thragtusk. Lévy summoned another Thragtusk and passed the turn.

    Raphaël Lévy

    Kuo cast Fiend Hunter and exiled one of the Thragtusks for good by sacrificing Fiend Hunter in response to its ability. Lévy still got a 3/3 token and his creatures were beginning to put some serious pressure on Kuo. However, Undercity Informer shenanigans had given Kuo a sizable graveyard, and once again it was time for Unburial Rites. This time, though, Lévy had Dissipate. Next turn, another Unburial Rites met Negate, and at end of turn Lévy's Restoration Angel added another 6 power to his board (by blinking Thragtusk) and that was enough.

    Raphaël Lévy 1-1 Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Game 3

    Lots of action early on both sides: By turn three Kuo had already cast Faithless Looting and two copies of Mulch, while Lévy had Farseek, then Augur of Bolas and more Farseek.

    Lévy cast Pithing Needle (naming Undercity Informer) and kept mana up — a wise choice seeing as, on his turn, Kuo cast Unburial Rites. Pithing Needle meant there would be no infinite loops this time, but Angel of Glory's Rise would still raise from the grave Huntmaster of the Fells and Fiend Hunter. Lévy put a stop to that with Dissipate, then summoned Thragtusk on his turn.

    Kuo had another Unburial Rites and used Fiend Hunter to exile Angel of Glory's Rise, to be returned if and when Fiend Hunter left the battlefield. And indeed Fiend Hunter did leave the battlefield, but only to be put under Kuo's library thanks to Lévy's Terminus. All Kuo was left with was his lone Angel of Glory's Rise, but he soon added Thragtusk and went for some old-fashioned beatdown. Lévy put a stop to that with Supreme Verdict, then summoned a Thragtusk of his own.

    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Over the next couple of turns, various Thragtusks, tokens, Angels, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Undercity Informers traded, but afterwards Lévy was once again left with one Thragtusk as the sole creature on the table. Unfortunately, time was running out and Lévy's play was getting increasingly frantic: Between tapping lands for Kessig Wolf Run, passing his turn, and casting Think Twice at end of Kuo's, he totally forgot to create a token when Kuo played Fiend Hunter and exiled Thragtusk. With 14 lands on the battlefield and Kuo at 11, Lévy could have won this very turn thanks to Kessig Wolf Run, but not to worry: At this point he was (almost) in total control, with spare counters in hand, and simply cast Supreme Verdict to get his Thragtusk back and win next turn.

    Too bad there never was a next turn! Kuo topdecked Angel of Glory's Rise and used Cavern of Souls to get around Lévy's counterspells, assembling the deadly combo of Undercity Informer, Burning-Tree Emissary, Fiend Hunter, and said Angel. Lévy was clearly shocked. Minutes after he had congratulated Kuo on his win, he could still be seen in the feature match area, shaking his head over the mistake that cost him the game and match.

    Raphaël Lévy 1-2 Tzu-Ching Kuo


  • Feature Match Round 6 – Gerry Thompson vs. Stefan Steiner

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Facing each other in round 6 are the Gerry Thompson from the US and Stefan Steiner from Austria. Steiner won the roll and both players opted to mulligan down to 6.

    Gerry Thompson

    Nothing happened on the first turn, but Steiner kicked things off with Augur of Bolas, finding Think Twice on his second turn. Thompson didn't make any plays, so he took 1 from Augur of Bolas.

    A Think Twice got Steiner another card at the end of his third turn and things continued to play out in this fashion with both players trying to find more cards and dropping Lands with only the Augur of Bolas applying any aggression.

    That all changed when a Restoration Angel suddenly appeared on Thompson's side of the field. Steiner responded with a copy of his own, removing Augur of Bolas from combat. He took 3 from the Angel the following turn and when he sent his creatures in, Thompson found a second Angel to deal with Augur of Bolas.

    Steiner had the perfect answer in Supreme Verdict and when he passed without making any plays the following turn, Thompson felt the time was right for some Sphinx's Revelation. Dissipate foiled that plan, but that meant Thompson now saw an opening to apply pressure with Aurelia, the Warleader.

    Steiner had another Restoration Angel, preventing him from taking any damage. He used Nephalia Drownyard at the end of his opponent's turn to apply pressure, causing Thompson to look for answers, flashbacking Think Twice.

    The American then added Restoration Angel to his party, while at the end of turn, Steiner used Sphinx's Revelation to draw into a full hand. He didn't perform any actions on his following turn at first, but then showed Azorius Charm when Thompson sent in his Restoration Angel again. Steiner blocked Aurelia, the Warleader with Restoration Angel, but the flying creature wouldn't see another turn since Thompson had a Pillar of Flame to deal with it once and for all!

    Steiner needed an out and found it in Supreme Verdict. That levelled the field once again and when Thompson couldn't apply any pressure the following turn, Steiner used both copies of Nephalia Drownyard to make sure his opponent wouldn't see a chance to do so later!

    Stefan Steiner 1 - 0 Gerry Thompson

    Steiner was on the play and used Think Twice on his second and third turn (flashback) to draw into more options. He found one in Augur of Bolas on his fourth turn, which didn't get countered.

    Devour Flesh dealt with it and Steiner followed it up with Duress.

    Thompson dropped Cavern of Souls, naming Angels. Azorius Charm drew Steiner a new card and this time it was him who added Augur of Bolas to his party. He added Think Twice to his hand and Thompson also played a copy of the instant, flashbacking it.

    So far, this game seemed like a competition of who could draw more cards. Steiner sent Augur of Bolas in to at least pretend it wasn't all about drawing and when Thompson continued to not cast any creatures, Steiner felt it was time to use Nephalia Drownyard once again.

    The following turn, Augur of Bolas went in once again and Thompson then used Sphinx's Revelation to draw 5 cards and go up to 25 life again. He then found Augur of Bolas, netting him Azorius Charm, using it and eventually discarding 4 cards. Steiner used Nephalia Drownyard.

    For Steiner, the problem seemed to be choice!

    Thompson found Geist of Saint Draft, but Steiner didn't even flinch. He blocked it the following turn with Augur of Bolas and took 1 from Thompson's copy of the Sorcerer. Thompson attempted to charm Augur of Bolas to which Steiner responded with Restoration Angel. An Essence Scatter foiled that plan and Steiner was left without a field!

    He equaled the odds with Supreme Verdict and Thompson then drew 2 more cards with Think Twice. Nothing else happened on that turn, causing Steiner to use his Nephalia Drownyard.

    "Count your deck, please", Thompson requested. 38 cards.

    By now, Thompson's graveyard was matching Steiner's deck in size!

    Thompson passed after that, Steiner did the same and Thompson then invited Snapcaster Mage to his party and he also played Azorius Charm. He then tried to follow it up with Restoration Angel, but Steiner used Devour Flesh in response. Thompson went up to 26, but he lost his Snapcaster Mage. The Angel went in the following turn and when Thompson opted to pass without performing any more plays, Steiner used Azorius Charm to draw a card. Thompson was now left with 9 cards in his deck.

    Steiner passed play after dropping only a land. Once again, Snapcaster Mage came down, attempting to bring back Psychic Spiral, but Steiner had Negate. Thompson also had a counter, but Steiner found a second copy among the many cards in his hand.

    Counterflux came down in response! Steiner was now forced to use Azorius Charm, looking for answers, but his deck didn't provide him with any and that meant that Thompson would not get decked this game, instead turning the it upside down thanks to Psychic Spiral!

    Gerry Thompson 1 - 1 Stefan Steiner

    We had 20 minutes remaining in the round and Steiner announced that he would go first in the deciding game. Both players kept their opening 7, but nothing happened the first 4 turns.

    Augur of Bolas got Steiner Sphinx's Revelation and Thompson started to draw cards again with Think Twice. He then found a Augur of Bolas of his own, causing the game to appear like a Mexican standoff.

    Steiner saw an opportunity when Thompson didn't perform any actions on his fourth turn and he used Nephalia Drownyard. Thompson took the invitation and played Restoration Angel, bouncing Augur of Bolas!

    Restoration Angel dropped Steiner to 17, Think Twice drew the Austrian a card at the end of his opponent's turn.

    Thompson matched that play when nothing happened on Steiner's following turn, but when Thompson sent in his Restoration Angel, Steiner surprised him with Ultimate Price. Thompson used Geist of Saint Traft to rebuild and Steiner started the mill game again with the help of Nephalia Drownyard.

    It was Thompson's aggression against Steiner's deck destruction once again. Supreme Verdict was supposed to change that, but Thompson had Restoration Angel to rebuild. Negate by Steiner got matched with a counter and when Steiner then tried to get rid of the Angel with Devour Flesh, Thompson had yet another answer!

    Both players then refilled their hands with the help of Sphinx's Revelation. Thompson's Restoration Angel continued to apply pressure and he followed it up with Augur of Bolas, netting him another copy of Think Twice.

    The Angel's attack was then halted by Azorius Charm, to which Steiner responded with Snapcaster Mage. This got Thompson back Counterflux, forcing through the attack of the Angel.

    Once again, Steiner had to use Sphinx's Revelation, looking for answers.

    Steiner now knew what Thompson was holding on to!

    Steiner took a peek at Thompson's hand with the help of Duress. He then played Augur of Bolas, adding Supreme Verdict to his hand. It resolved shortly after, levelling the field. Steiner discarded and Thompson thought about that twice, drawing yet more cards.

    When nothing happened on Thompson's following turn, Steiner felt compelled to use Nephalia Drownyard again. Thompson flashbacked Think Twice and he then followed it up with Snapcaster Mage to play Psychic Spiral, costing Steiner 21 cards from his deck!

    "How many cards do you have in your deck?" - "38", Thompson replied. Jace, Memory Adept came down. "Mill 10?", Thompson asked. "Yeah", Steiner replied. As soon as Thompson announced that this was fine with him, Steiner flashed Psychic Spiral. "Good games!", Thompson congratulated his opponent.

    Stefan Steiner beats Gerry Thompson 2:1

    The sizes of the decks seemed like a rollercoaster ride in this match, with Steiner ending up in the better position and coming out on top.

    Asked about the crucial play in the last game, both players agreed that Duress proved extremely important. Steiner knew exactly what Thompson would be able to stop after he took a look at his hand, allowing him to set up a game deciding combo with Jace and Psychic Spiral shortly after!


  • Saturday, 6:59 p.m. – Quick Question: Seen any unusual card or deck today?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Gerry Thompson: Aurelia, the Warleader when I played it. Yay, dragons!
    Jan van der Vegt: GerryT's Aurelia.
    Raphaël Lévy: No. Nothing unusual. Thragtusk. [Shrug.]
    Thomas Holzinger: My Reanimator opponent had Gnaw to the Bone!
    Martin Jůza: Undercity Informer doesn't cut it, I guess?
    Samuel Black: Prime Speaker ZeganaBant.
    Shahar Shenhar: My opponent was stuck on five lands for a couple of turns. Then he played Cavern of Souls and chose Angel, so I figured I'd now lose to Aurelia. Then he triumphantly cast Angelic Skirmisher. I lost to that one too, but still...


  • Feature Match Round 8 – Tzu-Ching Kuo (Human Reanimator) vs. Joel Calafell (Human Reanimator)

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • We've made it to round 8, the second to last round we'll be playing today. We invited two undefeated players to our feature match table: Joel Calafell, winner Grand Prix Barcelona back in 2009, who will now have to go up against the globetrotting Tzu-Ching Kuo.

    Calafell won the die roll, but shuffled back his first hand. Kuo was fine with the first 7 cards his deck dealt him. Calafell let out a sigh when he took a close look at the 6 cards he got, but he eventually decided that he was fine with them.

    After only a Land drop for Calafell, Kuo kicked things off with Faithless Looting, improving his hand.

    First Kuo, then Calafell used Mulch on their respective next turns, each adding 2 Lands to their hands. No Mana Screw in this match!

    Kuo Flashbacked Faithless Looting on his third turn, while Calafell kept adding Lands, this time courtesy of Farseek. Kuo found yet another Faithless Looting. At the end of his opponent's turn, Calafell activated Grisly Salvage, selecting Sunpetal Grove.

    We were still waiting for the first creature to hit the field, but it seemed like it wasn't meant to happen. This time, Calafell went digging with Faithless Looting. Kuo started to seem slightly annoyed, did he feel like he was losing the war of attrition? A Flashbacked Faithless Looting provided Calafell with yet more options and play was back to Kuo.

    Unburial Rites brought back Undercity Informer - the first creature in play!

    Calafell was down to 3 cards in hand while Kuo was still holding twice that many. A Land drop was followed by Angel of Glory's Rise, bringing back Huntmaster of the Fells as well as Fiend Hunter. Kuo sacrificed Undercity Informer for its own effect in response to make sure it wouldn't get exiled by the effect of Fiend Hunter.

    Kuo was applying lots of mental pressure on Calafell when he started to look through his grave. He took his time, assembling Huntmaster of the Fells and more powerful Humans all on one pile. He cast an Angel of Glory's Rise of his own, immediately causing Calafell to shuffle up his cards!

    Tzu-Ching Kuo 1 - 0 Joel Calafell

    So far, Kuo hadn't said more than 10 words in this match. He certainly made it look like he was at the top of his game, quietly controlling things, not committing to make any mistakes, while Calafell seemed to be under a lot more tension.

    Calafell took his time assessing the usability of his opening 7. He decided to send it back while Kuo continued to appear confident, keeping his hand. "Just a second," Calafell announced when he took a little longer trying to decide if he had to ship his second hand back or not.

    He then decided that he was fine with it. Both players only dropped lands on their respective first turns and when Kuo announced that he would discard at the end of his second turn (!), Calafell used Grisly Salvage. Suddenly, things had taken a huge swing in Calafell's direction!

    He found a Burning-Tree Emissary on his following turn, further improved his hand with Faithless Looting and Kuo discarded Fiend Hunter at the end of his second turn.

    Calafell's deck was now running like a well-oiled machine; Mulch got him 2 more Lands.

    The next turn, Kuo finally found a second Land. He immediately followed it up with a Burning-Tree Emissary of his own, Mulch came down next and that provided him with another Land for his next turn.

    Burning-Tree Emissary was sent in, bringing Kuo down to 16. Unburial Rites then brought back Angel of Glory's Rise, this got Calafell Fiend Hunter and he took care of Kuo's Burning-Tree Emissary.

    Kuo now had to do some maths. He then followed it up with Burning-Tree Emissary and Mulch.

    Calafell was down to 2 cards. Kuo dropped Sunpetal Grove, his third Land, before passing play.

    Calafell used Mulch, netting him 2 more Lands yet again. A second Fiend Hunter exiled Kuo's sole opposition, clearing the path for attacks with his remaining 3 creatures!

    Kuo was up against the ropes, staring down a field of 2 copies of Fiend Hunter, 2 copies of Burning-Tree Emissary and a sole Angel of Glory's Rise. He played Fiend Hunter, dealing with the Angel and ended.

    It almost seemed like Calafell had this one in the bag already!

    Faithless Looting provided Calafell with more options. He then followed it up with 2 more copies of Burning-Tree Emissary, giving him a full playset on the field.

    Once again, Kuo felt inclined to do some maths. He then figured his only option was Unburial Rites on Angel of Glory's Rise. This got him back Fiend Hunter, targeting the opposing Fiend Hunter that had exiled Kuo's Burning-Tree Emissary, another copy that targeted Kuo's own Angel of Glory's Rise, 2 copies of Undercity Informer and another Burning-Tree Emissary.

    Kuo then went on and built a huge chain; he sacrificed both copies of Burning-Tree Emissary as well as his first Undercity Informer before sacrificing his Fiend Hunter that had exiled Angel of Glory's Rise.

    Kuo had big plans, going for an infinite combo!

    He basically repeated this move a few more times and his graveyard quickly filled up while his deck dwindled more and more in size. After what he felt were enough repetitions, he brought back 2 copies of Fiend Hunter to exile the 2 copies that Calafell controlled, Kuo then got rid of the remaining cards in his deck and that caused Calafell to count the number of cards in his opponent's graveyard.

    While he was at that, Kuo explained that he would continue to repeat this loop a few more times as he was now on "infinite mana". That was fine with Calafell, who revealed the top card of his deck: Serra Avatar!

    In the end, Calafell was down to 1 card in his Deck and he drew it for his turn; the above mentioned Serra Avatar. Calafell then announced that he would simply pass the turn. Kuo shuffled up his cards in frustration, the first time he let out an emotion in this match!

    Calafell 1 - 1 Kuo

    Wow, what an epic conclusion in the second game. We now had to play an all-deciding final game!

    Both players kept their opening 7 with 10 minutes remaining in the round. Kuo kicked things off with a Burning-Tree Emissary on his second turn and he followed it up with Mulch, adding 2 Lands to his hand.

    Calafell found Cavern of Souls, naming Humans. Kuo went in with Burning-tree Emissary and passed play.

    Calafell took the invitation and he first used Grisly Salvage and then Faithless Looting.

    Kuo played Grisly Salvage at the end of his opponent's turn, he took 2 from Blood Crypt, played Slaughter Games, naming Angel of Glory's Rise and that's what he saw:

    Kuo now knew exactly what Calafell was up to!

    Unburial Rites brought back Undercity Informant. It didn't stay on the field for long as Kuo had Fiend Hunter to exile it before taking another shot with Burning-Tree Emissary.

    Calafell fought back with Mulch, adding 1 Land to his hand. He dropped Temple Garden and passed.

    Kuo let out a deep breather. He seemed confident, declared attacks with both of his creatures and play was back to Calafell. 3 more minutes remaining in the round.

    Angel of Serenity put up a strong opposition for Calafell.

    Kuo simply used Farseek. Angel of Serenity went in and Kuo blocked with Burning-Tree Emissary. Both players had 11 life remaining. Faithless Looting got used twice thanks to Flashback and Calafell passed.

    Now it was Kuo who used Faithless Looting, he then played Undercity Informer, used Flashbackof Faithless Looting and passed. Time was called during this turn.

    Once again, Calafell used Faithless Looting to find the right cards in his hand. He then counted the cards in Kuo's graveyard, trying to guess the things to come. He Flashbacked Faithless Looting, cast Fiend Hunter, exiling Undercity Informer and his Angel of Serenity together with his own Undercity Informer dealt 7, dropping Kuo to 4.

    Another Undercity Informer came down for Kuo and he sacrificed it, adding Burning-Tree Emissary to his graveyard. He ended with 1 card in hand.

    Calafell declared attacks with all his creatures and Kuo picked up his cards!

    Joel Calafell overcomes Tzu-Ching Kuo in an exciting match!

    Tzu-Ching Kuo thought he had this match all wrapped up when he went for his infinite combo at the end of game 2. What he didn't expect was Serra Avatar, buying Calafell a crucial turn, forcing an all-deciding third game!

    When Kuo cast Slaughter Games, it seemed like there was nothing Calafell could do to come out on top. However, he adapted successfully and went for a more aggressive approach and he was rewarded with a perfect 8 - 0 record!


  • Saturday, 8:00 p.m. – Recovery

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Even though it seems unlikely that 2 household names are getting paired against each other when more than 1.200 Magic fans are coming together, it does happen every now and then. Additionally, with more and more rounds being played and most of our favorites doing particularly well, the odds are continuosly changing in our favor as you were able to see in our feature matches of the earlier rounds. I wanted to tackle the important question: What do you do after you've taken a loss? How do you recover from there and make sure you can still play at your best?

    Gerry Thompson: "You just have to realize that each round is not that important in itself. You have to look at the bigger picture, not have the little things bother you and think of the tournament as a whole. If you can do that, you will be able to focus again and do well in the following rounds."

    Right after his loss in the Feature Match, Gerry Thompson bounced back and won round 7!

    Does it make a difference if you're seeing yourself paired against one of the other famous players?

    "Not really. I think the nice thing of being paired against the good players is that you can expect them to make the best play most of the time. So they won't do something weird and if you have some information as to what they're holding on to, you can tell how the rest of the game will unfold."

    Another famous player that has had to overcome defeat before: Christophe Gregoir.

    Rich was kind enough to set me up with another known player that's currently sitting on a 6 - 1 record. He knows what it's like to lose in a Feature Match; apparently he's got a little story to tell.

    Christophe Gregoir: "5 years ago, I screwed up badly in a Feature Match and people still bring it up. So yeah, that part sucks a bit, but other than that, it's not that much different when compared to a normal match."

    What's special about Feature Matches in general?

    "I think you try a little harder when people are watching, but other than that, like I said, it's just another match and you simply need to do your best! Granted, you feel a little worse if you screwed up, but that's about it."

    How do you come back after you lost a match?

    "You need to look at it one match at a time. You can't win them all, you will eventually lose some, so you need to prepare for the next round and not get upset about your loss."

    So the number one recommendation from the pros is keeping your calm. If you're not quite there yet, I recommend trying to focus on your breathing to slow yourself down. Also, stay hydrated to make sure you won't be running out of energy anytime soon.

    Keep these things in mind and you'll be able to do extremely well at the larger events!


  • Saturday, 8:30 p.m. – Making Magic Come to Life

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • It's 08:30 pm and we're currently in the last round of competition on the first day of Grand Prix Verona. By now, quite a few players decided to call it a day and try their luck in the Side Events instead. Apart from that, there's plenty more to do this weekend, e.g. checking with some of the most renowned artists that are signing cards.

    One of our 2 featured artists this weekend is Chris Rahn. If you can't quite connect the name to the cards he drew, let our Gatherer help you: Cards drawn by Chris Rahn

    What is it like to draw Magic cards when compared to your other works?

    Chris: "Basically, the best part of doing art for Magic lies in the fact that they (Wizards of the Coast) don't have me do a lot of corrections. I have few clients that give me so much creative freedom, they are open to my ideas and I really enjoy that!"

    What's your favorite card?

    "Crosis, the Purger - that one was a lot of fun! Very heavy metal! It's a reinterpretation of an old piece of art and that is always exciting."

    Hundreds of fans never allowed Chris Rahn to take a break this weekend!

    How do you like to attend events like the Grand Prix Verona?

    "It's great; it's crazy to see how popular the artworks are. There's almost never a point in time where we're not sitting here signing autographs and you can tell players really appreciate all the effort we're putting into it."

    What's your advice for somebody who's interested in becoming an artist?

    "I think going to art school really helped me, personally. Obviously, it's not for everybody, but for me, practicing so much and getting down the basics – especially anatomics – proved crucial.

    "The thing is, you can't just take a picture of what you want to draw, you need to make it up in your mind. So you have to understand how the world works until you can come up with some exciting work like the art I created for Magic."

    Karl Kopinski certainly enjoyed his time at the Grand Prix Verona!

    Our other artist on site this weekend is Karl Kopinski. After signing hundreds of autographs, he went for a well-deserved break, so I couldn't get a hold of him today. If you want to take a look at all the cards that he's drawn, check out this link: Cards drawn by Karl Kopinski


  • Saturday, 9:00 p.m. – Relentless Inventing

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • "Aristocrats really shouldn't have won Montreal" - Richard Hagon, the voice of Magic.

    Samuel Black, the designer of Tom Martell's winning deck of Pro Tour Montreal might have heard similar statements prior to the event. Still, he was convinced that it was the right choice for the occasion and his friend Martell made a pretty convincing case. We sat together with Samuel expecting to learn a little more about his deck designing process. We ended up with an amazing story that I'm going to share with you in its fullest. Enter Samuel Black:

    "This year, I started to do the daily decks for Wizards where I'm submitting a decklist every day and talk about it. Often, I pick a game from Magic Online, but sometimes, I built something on my own - especially when I can't find anything that catches my interest online.

    "The week Gatecrash came out, I wanted to feature some decks with Gatecrash cards in it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any as players were still figuring out what to do with them.

    I then tried to build a deck for every single guild. Many of them weren't that competitive, but I came up with a number of interesting ideas when I put them all together. I got obsessed with making an Orzhov deck worked.

    "It was horrible. It wasn't fast enough, it couldn't win in the long run, so I instead turned to the black / white cards. I then tried to build a deck that was as cheap as possible. I then became obsessed with Extort as it was amazing in limited. The key, it appeared to me, was to build a curve as low as possible so you could get the most out of the card.

    "That's when I first came up with most of the creatures that ended up in the final deck. I liked what was going on, but the mana base didn't quite work out."

    Samuel Black couldn't make his deck idea work at first, but he never gave up!

    "Next, I built a cheap white and a cheap black deck. Both seemed somewhat promising and I was very happy with both of them. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that they were still losing to the good aggro decks. So I felt like giving up; I made my decks as fast as possible and I still couldn't compete at the highest level.

    "I didn't pursue my plan any further for a day or two, but got back to Falkenrath Aristocrat. I added some zombies, but I would still lose to aggro. The following day, I felt like throwing the Humans in the deck instead as they could block. I was losing to Supreme Verdict with similar decks before and by now, came to the conclusion that Falkenrath Aristocrat was the best answer to that card. So I now felt like I was on the right track.

    "The deck was now good except it was still losing to the red aggro decks. I wanted to splash another card: Boros Reckoner as it proved great against the red aggro decks. Owen had borrowed a playset of the card and he allowed me to try them out - otherwise, I would have never ended up playing the deck!

    "I played 10 games and won them all. I then announced to my team: "I'm playing this!" My teammates tried it out and one after another jumped on the band waggon and also wanted to give it a try. They didn't try the deck as much, but they felt somewhat confident in my choice.

    "Tom, who ended up winning the Pro Tour, was basically the only player who tested the deck a few times. He might have ended up with more games in prior to the tournament than me. The rest seemed a little too busy. And basically, that's the story how my team ended up taking down Pro Tour Montreal!"

    Sometimes, you need to run into a few one-way streets and turn around until you can find the way to the highway. That's basically what happened to Samuel Black, Tom Martell and the rest of their team when they brought Aristocrats to the Pro Tour Montreal. What you should take away from this epic story is that you shouldn't give up if something doesn't work out right away. Even though everyone else might disagree and show little confidence in your deck choice, it might be exactly what you'll need to take the whole thing down!


  • Saturday, 9:30 p.m. – Quick Question: What were the top four decks you expected to see the most this weekend?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Gerry Thompson: Jund, Blue-White-Red, Jund Aggro, and Human Reanimator.
    Jan van der Vegt: Jund, Blue-White-Red, Jund Aggro, and Bant.
    Raphaël Lévy: Jund, Blue-White-Red, and that Human aggro deck …
    Shahar Shenhar: Jund, Naya, Blue-White-Red, and Reanimator.
    Martin Jůza: Jund, Blue-White-Red, Naya Blitz — these were definitely the top three. After that, a number of decks were about equal.
    Samuel Black: Flinthoof Boar, Boros Reckoner, Unburial Rites, and Sphinx's Revelation. That were basically the decks I expected.


  • Saturday, 9:31 p.m. – Quick Question: And how did your metagame prediction work out for you?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Gerry Thompson: I did play against Jund Aggro, but also against Naya, Esper, Zombies ... So, yeah, I was not really close.
    Jan van der Vegt: I played against more Reanimator than I expected and which I decided to ignore. It just takes too much sideboard space to really turn that into a good matchup.
    Raphaël Lévy: I never expected so much Human Reanimator! Apart from that, everything's fine.
    Shahar Shenhar: Good. Although I didn't expect any green-white-black Reanimator but rather the Human version.
    Martin Jůza: My prediction turned out to be pretty accurate. Except of course for the three Reanimator decks I played against!
    Samuel Black: Seeing as I didn't mention any Jund ... Well, that was a miss. And of course Prime Speaker Zegana. That one I also didn't expect.


  • Saturday, 10:15 p.m. – Round 9 Round-Up

    by Tobi Henke

  • For the final round of the day, eight players sat down in the feature match area and only four of them would be back tomorrow. With a score of 6-2, each one of these players desperately needed a win. The match between Joel Larsson and Gabor Kocsis was shown in full detail on video (Larsson won) and here's a quick run-down of what happened in the other three.

    Andreas Ganz (Human Reanimator) vs. Alexandre Darras (Zoo)

    Ganz took an early lead after Darras's mulligan to six left him stranded on two lands. In fact, he was still stuck on two lands when Ganz reanimated Angel of Glory's Rise.

    In the second game, Darras opened on two Gyre Sages. Not the quickest start imaginable, but turn four saw him cast Flinthoof Boar and Loxodon Smiter, growing his Gyre Sages to 3/4. Suddenly, he had 13 power on the table, and took the game soon after.

    In game three, Darras had Burning-Tree-Emissary, Flinthoof Boar, and Flinthoof Boar, all by turn three. But Ganz's Undercity Informer kept the 2/2 at bay and collaborated with Fiend Hunter to exile one of the Boars. Darras redoubled with Boros Reckoner, drawing Abrupt Decay from Ganz. With Abrupt Decay out of the way, Darras cast his trump card: Rest in Peace! But Ganz had only used his Abrupt Decay so carelessly because he had another. He destroyed Rest in Peace, and with the help of Grisly Salvage, Mulch, Undercity Informer, and quite a bit of luck, managed to assemble his combo just in time. He won on 1 life.

    Andreas Ganz 2-1 Alexandre Darras

    Emanuele Giusti (Jund) vs. Andre Müller (Mono Black splashing red and green)

    Thompson took game one with the help of Aurelia, the Warleader and lost the second without.

    The third, as is so often the case, was the most interesting game: Early on, Thompson's Supreme Verdict was foiled by Boros Charm. But now Ferrari walked right into Thompson's trap. With one Supreme Verdict out of the way, he basically emptied his hand, then lost his team to Supreme Verdict flashback, courtesy of Snapcaster Mage. Still, Ferrari recovered remarkably with Huntmaster of the Fells and Restoration Angel, while Thompson drew 14 lands to his nine spells. That was not enough.

    Gerry Thompson 1-2 Stefano Ferrari

    Emanuele Giusti (Jund) vs. Andre Müller (Mono Black splashing red and green)

    Müller's deck was Jund nominally, but nothing like Giusti's. For example, in game one, Müller combined Vampire Nighthawk with Kessig Wolf Run, used Mutilate to clear the baord of creatures, and with eight lands on the battlefield, cast Crypt Ghast followed by Griselbrand. Clearly, he won that game.

    But Giusti started fast into game two, with Arbor Elf, Liliana of the Veil, and Garruk, Primal Hunter. Müller's first play was Rakdos's Return on turn four which killed Liliana and cleared Giusti's hand. However, Kessig Wold Run pumped Giusti's 3/3 token, allowing Garruk to draw a new hand of five cards. Müller never recovered, and the players went to game three to decide it all.

    Here, Müller's turn-three Liliana of the Veil met Abrupt Decay, but his Crypt Ghast survived and allowed Müller to cast Rakdos's Return for seven on turn five. Just before losing all cards in hand, however, Giusti had cast Olivia Voldaren which proceeded to kill Crypt Ghast and smash face. Müller never found a way to kill Olivia (no removal, no Olivia of his own) and that was that.

    Emanuele Giusti 2-1 Andre Müller

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