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Grand Prix Vienna 2014 Day 2 Coverage

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The letter P!lay on Day 2 of Grand Prix Vienna has commenced. Yesterday already was an amazing day full of Magic, and today is promising to be even better, what with the excitement of two Born of the Gods/Theros booster drafts with three rounds each, followed by one final draft and the Top 8 playoffs!

1,208 players entered the tournament on Saturday, but only 149 of them escaped the carnage of the first nine rounds with seven or more wins. Going into the second day, (1) Jérémy Dezani, (22) Raphaël Lévy, Christian Seibold, and Johan Verhulst lead the standings with perfect records of 9-0, but not far behind are famous players like Denniz Rachid, Lukas Jaklovsky, and Lukas Blohon who all went 8-1, while David Reitbauer, Arjan van Leeuwen, Samuele Estratti, Florian Koch, Thomas Holzinger, (13) Stanislav Cifka and a host of others all went 7-2.

Which of these players will make it through to the Top 8? Who can master the Born of the Gods/Theros draft format? And who will be crowned champion at the very end? Follow us throughout the day, as we bring you all the news, all the stories, and all the action straight from the battlefield of Grand Prix Vienna 2014!











 

  • Quick Question #5:
    What's Your Favorite Color Combination in This Draft Format?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Olle Råde: Blue-green.
    Martin Jůza: Red-white. I'm an aggressive guy in draft. And white just has so many strong cards in the first pack, or rather, good ones at all.
    Raphaël Lévy: X-X. All combinations are fine. I'll draft anything.
    Thomas Holzinger: Green-something. It basically doesn't matter what second color you choose. Green always is underdrafted.



     

  • Round 10 Feature Match - Johan Verhulst vs. (22) Raphaël Lévy

    by Tobi Henke

  • At the beginning of the day, of the original 1,208 only four players remained undefeated. After this round there would be but two: the winner of Christian Seibold's match against (1) Jérémy Dezani, featured on video, and the winner of this duel here.

    Here, Johan Verhulst met Raphaël Lévy. The former is no stranger to the feature match area, can often be seen on the second day of Grand Prix across Europe, and even made it to the Top 8 once, in Lisbon in 2012. However, if Verhulst is no stranger to the feature match area, then Hall of Famer and No. 22-ranked player Raphaël Lévy is practically at home there.

    Both players had drafted white cards, Verhulst pairing them with blue, Lévy working with green. Neither was particularly excited about his deck though.

    Game One

    The early game saw some trades (Lévy's Nyxborn Wolf versus Verhulst's Crackling Triton) and some more drops to clog up the board (Traveling Philosopher with Nyxborn Shieldmate for Verhulst, Nylea's Disciple for Lévy), but the action really got going only once the players took to the air. Lévy was first with Setessan Griffin and Loyal Pegasus, gaining an early lead in the damage race by repeatedly pumping his Griffin.

    No 22 Ranked Player Raphaël Lévy

    Vaporkin blocked the Pegasus, however Lévy had Battlewise Valor to save it. Next, Verhulst got a 5/5 in Ornitharch, and took some more damage when Setessan Griffin acquired Nyxborn Shieldmate and was pumped again. The 6/6 took him to 4.

    Verhulst passed his turn, then made Lévy stop: "In your upkeep ..." Lévy already knew what was coming and tapped his Nylea's Disciple and Setessan Griffin for Verhulst's Sudden Storm, which left him with just Loyal Pegasus. In the face of a 3/4 Traveling Philosopher, 5/5 Ornitharch, and Deepwater Hypnotist that was not nearly enough and Lévy died before his creatures got the chance to untap again.

    Game Two

    With the help of Battlewise Valor, Lévy managed to keep his God-Favored General around long enough to create two tokens, but, all too soon, Verhulst's Coastline Chimera put a final stop to such shenanigans. Trying a new angle of attack, Lévy build up his air force with Setessan Griffin but was outclassed there as well, as Verhulst once again had Ornitharch.

    Then Verhulst cast Hundred-Handed One and Chorus of the Tides, while Lévy played ... well, Lévy played more lands. He now had seven lands on the battlefield and had cast a grand total of three spells so far.

    Johan Verhulst

    Feral Invocation on Setessan Griffin and Time to Feed on that same Griffin and Hundred-Handed One offered a small reprieve, but when the Feral Invocation and Griffin were lost to Griptide, the game was all but over. Verhulst attacked with his team and Lévy soon conceded.

    Johan Verhulst 2-0 (22) Raphaël Lévy

    "My deck's okay but not great," said Lévy after its bad performance in the match. "Mine too," Verhulst replied. "I have some cards that— Well you saw the Crackling Triton, for example."




     

  • Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - Draft Feature Jeremy Dezani

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • The very first draft pod features the last 4 undefeated players remaining in competition this weekend - Christian Seibold, Jeremy Dezani, Raphaël Lévy and Johan Verhulst - as well as Andrea Mengucci, Tom Böttcher, Alexis Martinez and Aleksa Telarov.

    We'll now be looking the shoulder of the current leader of the Top 25 ranking, Jeremy Dezani and see how his draft will go.


    His first pack featured Oreskos Sun Guide and Acolyte's Reward and Dezani quickly moved them to the front. That changed when he saw Tromokratis, however, and he eventually stuck with the blue Kraken.

    The second pack featured a Nyxborn Wolf, Raised by Wolves, Pheres-Band Raiders, Champion of Stray Souls and few viable choices for blue. Dezani seemed confident that green would pair up nicely with blue, so he put Raised by Wolves and the Pheres-Band Raiders to the top. He picked Raised by Wolves and passed the remaining cards.


    The draft was temporarily paused because of some issue at another table. Dezani focused again and he then saw Great Hart, Retraction Helix, Thassa's Rebuff and quite a few white cards, but the Retraction Helix quickly moved to the top. He picked it over Satyr Wayfinder, his second best option according to the order of cards.

    Dezani received Pheres-Band Tromper, another Retraction Helix, Karametra's Favor, Skyreaping, another Great Hart, and he added a second copy of the Helix.

    The next pack featured Aspect of Hydra, Chorus of the Tides, Odunos River Trawler, Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass and that didn't even seem close; Dezani quickly chose Chorus of the Tides.

    9 cards remaining, God-Favored General, Springleaf Drum, Floodtide Serpent and Dezani added Springleaf Drum.

    Another Chorus of the Tides, a Satyr Wayfinder, Nyxborn Shieldmate and once again, Chorus of the Tides got added.


    Dezani now received Satyr Wayfinder, Nullify and he picked the blue spell. There were also 3 black cards remaining in the pack, but Dezani didn't seem to consider them.

    Mortal's Ardor was one of the cards in the next pack, but Dezani picked another green spell.

    Satyr Wayfinder over Great Hart in the following pack.

    Dezani then added Thassa's Rebuff rather than Culling Mark.

    3 cards remaining, that got Dezani a Skyreaping.

    Scouring Sands over Sunbond

    After Pack 1

    Dezani went over the contents of his deck quickly. It started with a lot of blue cards and he then went into green. So far, this decision had turned out perfectly fine, with a somewhat late Satyr Wayfinder helping him to fix his mana curve and plenty of versatile blue spells.

    Booster 2

    This time Dezani would be passing to the right. He saw Gods Willing, Artisan's Sorrow, a Lightning Strike, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and he now went for the red removal spell.

    He then saw Defend the Hearth and Triton Fortune Hunter together with Read the Bones, Ephara's Warden, Peak Eruption and he chose Triton Fortune Hunter.

    The following booster featured Lost in a Labyrinth, Traveling Philosopher, Pharika's Mender, Vulpine Goliath. Dezani picked the latter.

    He then saw Nessian Courser and an Omenspeaker that quickly moved to the top and eventually got picked.

    Akroan Hoplite, Fate Foretold, Insatiable Harpy were the options and Dezani moved into black with the Harpy again. Next to no blue cards in this pack.


    The following booster featured another Omenspeaker together with a Peak Eruption, a Lost in a Labyrinth and Pheres-Band Centaurs. The second Omenspeaker made the cut.

    Sedge Scorpion, Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Read the Bones and Gainsay moved to the top of Dezani's pack and he chose the Scorpion.

    Dezani then added Agent of Horizons.

    A Deathbellow Raider got added rather than Two-Headed Cerberus.

    Ephara's Warden seemed not very tempting, so Dezani added Guardians of Meletis instead.

    He then saw another Lost in a Labyrinth, but he opted against it and he added a multi-colored creature.

    The last 3 packs featured another green, another blue and a black card, but nothing too fancy.

    After Pack 2

    Dezani seemed happy that he was able to add the 2 Omenspeaker to his deck. They would certainly help him set up his follow-up plays so his deck would be consistent enough to compete at this level. Apparently, his left hand side neighbor, Raphaël Lévy, had also moved into green and he combined it with white. Dezani would most likely see more playables in the last pack since it didn't seem like his right hand neighbor Christian Seibold had moved into either of his colors.

    Booster 3

    The last booster started with Nimbus Naiad and Prophet of Kruphix, which Dezani picked.

    Voyaging Satyr, Nimbus Naiad, a lot of black and red cards and Dezani added the Voyaging Satyr. That was likely the better move since it would also cripple Levy a little.


    Reaper of the Wilds, Nessian Asp, Coordinated Assault and plenty of black, with Dezani adding Nessian Asp.

    11 cards remaining, among them Vulpine Goliath, a Triton Fortune Hunter, Lost in a Labyrinth and Felhide Minotaur. Dezani added the Fortune Hunter.

    He then saw Mnemonic Wall, Nylea's Presence, Peak Eruption, and with 5 seconds remaining, he added Peak Eruption.

    Griptide somewhat late seemed to make Dezani pretty happy, but in the last second, he picked Gainsay over it.

    Cavalry Pegasus came round, a Savage Surge, Lost in a Labyrinth and 2 more blue cards and Dezani added the Savage Surge.


    He then saw Stymied Hopes, Artisan's Sorrow and he picked the latter.

    6 cards remaining, among them Lash of the Whip, but we missed the pick.

    He then added a Sealock Monster.

    4 cards, but nothing in Dezani's colors. He hate picked a black card.

    He then saw Lost in a Labyrinth, but he picked a Felhide Minotaur over it, he received another blue card on the wheel before the last card that he didn't even look at concluded his draft.

    After the Draft

    Asked about how happy he was with the draft, Dezani commented that he was feeling quite OK with it. He guessed correctly that his fellow countryman Raphaël Lévy was sharing a color with him (green), but it didn't seem to affect his own draft too much.

    He now would have to go up against Christian Seibold who had picked a red and white deck.




     

  • Round 11 Feature Match - Samuele Estratti vs. Arjan van Leeuwen

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • "Please don't take revenge", Samuele Estratti plead prior to the beginning of the match. He has gone up against Arjan van Leeuwen Grand Prix Rotterdam back in 2009. Van Leeuwen added: "You were my only loss back then. And it didn't matter so much at that point. That's certainly different today."

    That concluded the friendly banter prior to the match. Van Leeuwen then rolled an 8 that matched Estratti's 7 and he opted to go first.

    Both players kept and while van Leeuwen was quick to give away he was running red and green, Estratti had a Temple of Deceit that meant he would most likely be blue and black.

    Van Leeuwen had a great start with Tymaret, the Murder King which got enchanted with Fearsome Temper, however, Estratti found an Baleful Eidolon that put a complete halt on van Leeuwen's offensive efforts.

    The Baleful Eidolon put a halt to van Leeuwen's offensive efforts!

    During the following turns, we saw no aggression apart from an Insatiable Harpy that got enchanted with Ordeal of Thassa from Estratti, but van Leeuwen's Bale Blight dealt with it before it could become more of a threat.

    Therefore, this game developed into a huge build-up with both players adding plenty of creatures, ultimately resulting in this impressive field.

    Both players had mustered up an army!

    Van Leeuwen had just added a second copy of Mogis's Marauder which allowed him to attack with a very intimidating Ill-Tempered Cyclops as well as his Tymaret, the Murder King, that was still hanging around. He also had Labyrinth Champion and Kragma Warcaller.

    Estratti on the other hand had a Fleshmad Steed, Returned Phalanx, Fellhide Minotaur, Omenspeaker and Champion of Stray Souls.

    Van Leeuwen went for it, attacking with Labyrinth Champion and Ill-Tempered Cyclops and Estratti went down to 1. He tried to recover with an attack from his enchanted Insatiable Harpy, but when van Leeuwen found yet another enchantment for his Tymaret, the Murder King, Estratti shuffled up.

    Arjan van Leeuwen 1 - 0 Samuele Estratti!

    In the second game, both players traded blows with Estratti finding Shipwreck Singer and van Leeuwen taking control of the field with a Deathbellow Raider followed by Tymaret, the Murder King.

    A Retraction Helix followed by Breaching Hippocamp gave Estratti the upper hand!

    A Scourgemark and Ordeal of Purphoros, cast on the Murder King and the Deathbellow Raider, respectively, seemingly made matters worse for Estratti. He had a great answer in Retraction Helix followed by Breaching Hippocramp, however, dealing with both of van Leeuwen's creatures for the time being!

    Estratti was now suddenly finding himself in the driver's seat and van Leeuwen's Labyrinth Champion couldn't change that thanks to a timely Sip of Hemlock.

    The second attempt of van Leeuwen to reclaim control of the field with Erebos's Emissary seemed more promising, but Estratti also found a powerful creature in Shipbreaker Kraken while his flying Shipwreck Singer continued to sting van Leeuwen.

    Ordeal of Purphoros on Erebos's Emissary and Mogis's Marauder were next for van Leeuwen and the following attacks left Estratti on just 10 health. Apparently, van Leeuwen had decided he would turn this into a damage race, much to Estratti's delight. He found a Spiteful Returned that enchanted Shipbreaker Kraken and the following attacks were enough to force a deciding game 3.

    Samuele Estratti ties the score!

    In the third game, van Leeuwen went down to 6 cards while Estratti kept a slow hand.

    Satyr Nyx-Smith was the first play and it dealt 2. The following turn, it got van Leeuwen a 3 / 1 red Elemental and it attacked unopposed despite Estratti's Servant of Tymaret.

    Satyr Nyx-Smith helped van Leeuwen move far ahead in the damage race!

    Estratti found Spiteful Returned to enchant his Servant of Tymaret and he attacked rather than opting to have a blocker ready.

    He got punished for that bold move since van Leeuwen had Tymaret, the Murder King followed by Mogis's Marauder! Van Leeuwen wasted no time, tapping his field.

    The game just took a huge swing in van Leeuwen's direction!

    Estratti shifted gears immediately and he used Griptide on Satyr Nyx-Smith. His Servant of Tymaret would not attack again, standing at the ready to maybe even deal with Tymaret himself - not exactly the job description of your typical servant.

    Van Leeuwen on the other hand kept the pressure coming, once again casting Satyr Nyx-Smith again attacking with everything. Estratti's creature blocked the Satyr.

    The Italian also had a Retraction Helix to deal with the Fire Elemental and a Sip of Hemlock the turn after so all van Leeuwen had left was Mogis's Marauder.

    Arjan van Leeuwen now forced his opponent into a bad trade!

    Van Leeuwen found Nyxborn Eidolon to enchant his lonely creature and he attacked with it, causing Estratti to block with Servant of Tymaret, which he lost in the process.

    Estratti now invited both Omenspeaker, sending both cards to the bottom of his deck and Baleful Eidolon, desperately trying to find enough blockers.

    Van Leeuwen however, didn't even need to attack; he brought back Tymaret, the Murder King from his graveyard, he cast it again, he activated its other effect and Estratti immediately extended the hand.

    Arjan van Leeuwen overcomes Samuele Estratti!

    "Your fifth turn was amazing! I had Griptide and Sip of Hemlock and I thought I could easily race you, but all that changed after that fifth turn", Estratti complained.

    "It can be pretty fast, but sometimes it stumbles", van Leeuwen replied. Well, it certainly didn't look that way in this match; despite Estratti holding on to plenty of removal, he still didn't have enough to deal with all of van Leeuwen's threats.




     

  • Sunday, 2:30 p.m. - The Italian Race

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Marco Cammilluzzi is no stranger to the competitive scene, having already advanced to the Top 8 of a Grand Prix three times before. He is currently one Pro Point ahead of Emanuele Giusti who finished fourth at Grand Prix Prague and who has already done rather well at three more Grand Prix. Just another point short of Giusti, Samuele Estratti is lying in wait, a former Pro Tour Champion with four more appearances in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix.

    This makes for one of the most exciting races regarding the captaincy of the World Magic Cup that will take place much later this year, but with only so many events to collect Pro Points, competition is more intense than ever before.

    At this point in time, round 12 of the Grand Prix Vienna is underway. Marco Cammilluzzi had long dropped from the event while Emanuele Giusti came close, ending up with one win short of making Day 2. That leaves us with Samuele Estratti, who I sat down with after his round 11 feature match who had quite a few things to say about the "Italian race".

    Estratti: "I am qualified for both of the two upcoming Pro Tours, so I think I have the edge in our little competition. Emanuele Giusti also has another invite, so I do think that the real race is between him and me and Marco will eventually trail behind."

    "Then again, if Cammilluzzi reaches Silver, he might also join us in the race. So I think there's a good chance this gets a little more exciting again", a smiling Estratti said.

    Even when he's not winning, Samuele Estratti is posing like a Pro!

    Is it your personal goal to be leading the Italian team into the World Magic Cup?

    Estratti: "I want to be as successful as possible. Of course it's nice to be leading my country in the World Magic Cup, but it's not my primary goal. For me, it's more about doing well in the events."

    What do you think about the World Magic Cup?

    Estratti: "I have been playing at the World Magic Cup a couple of times and it's always been a great experience. It's very different compared to single competition and I'm a very big fan of team formats. I think everyone who has never been to a team event has been missing out, these are always the funniest events!"

    Apparently, a Pro Tour appearance can make all the difference when it comes to amassing the all-important Pro Points. There's a very good chance we will see Samuele Estratti close to the top of the standings at Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx in May again, so make sure to keep track of his results.




     

  • Sunday, 1:55 p.m. – Time and Tide Wait for No Man

    by Tobi Henke

  • And neither does a Grand Prix. Well, that's not actually true. But it doesn't wait for very long.

    "This is the final call for Patrick Dickmann. Patrick Dickmann, please report to the main event stage immediately."

    This morning, while the players were waiting to start their first draft, the above announcement could be heard over the loudspeakers, foreboding a rather sad story. The 24-year-old Pro Tour Born of the Gods Top 8 competitor and Grand Prix champion was nowhere to be found. Ten minutes late, a minute after the head judge had decided he could not delay the tournament any further, Dickmann came running. Alas, it was too late and the draft started without him.

    Patrick Dickmann

    To state the obvious, Dickmann was quite unhappy. "I got up at half past seven this morning, but the person I was staying with here in Vienna caused a big delay, and then we narrowly missed two trains," Dickmann explained. "I know I shouldn't be angry with him though. In the end, I have no one else to blame but myself."

    He had also tried arguing with the head judge, but at that point all the seating had been arranged, the papers had been printed, the paper slips with the seating within each draft pod had been cut and distributed, and players were just about to move to their tables.

    "It's clearly unfortunate," said head judge Jurgen Baert, "but in the end, there is a certain point where you can no longer wait. I made a last call after eight minutes and then took the decision to move the tournament forward without Dickmann. We were redoing pod seatings and were about to post them as he came running. Readding him at that point would have delayed us another five minutes at least. It was a hard call, and not one I'm happy to make, but in the end my responsibility is toward the other 148 players as well as to him."

    "I can understand the decision," even Dickmann granted. "That still doesn't mean I'm happy about it, obviously. I was so close." Actually, he should be used to misfortunes like that by now. Just two weeks ago at Grand Prix Richmond, some miscommunication about the switch to Daylight Savings Time led to Dickmann receiving a match loss in the first round of Day 2. "My win percentage is actually awesome," he joked. "If only it weren't for all those match losses." Unfortunately for him, his missing the draft at this Limited Grand Prix came with the hefty price of three such match losses. After an 8-1 start yesterday, that meant he could only reenter the tournament for the second draft, then with a score of 8-4.

    All of that should be a reminder to everyone: Prepare your travel beforehand, plan for contingencies, and don't be late. It's hard enough to win at Magic as it is; it's impossible to win if you're not there. On time.




     

  • Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - Blood is thicker than Water

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Throughout the rich history of Magic, we have seen a team of brothers tear up the competitive scene quite a few times - some might remember the O'Mahoney-Schwartz brothers while Europeans will most likely think of Olivier and Antoine Ruel.

    While today's brotherhoods might not be as successful as some of these all-time greats (just yet), we can't help but notice that this seems to be a new trend emerging. Just a few weeks back, the Gräfensteiner brothers, joined by Christian Seibold, claimed the victory at the Grand Prix Barcelona where they had to overcome the Hauck brothers and Stephan Schwarz in the semi finals.

    Then there are of course the Dickmann brothers who can also be found close to the top of the standings more often than not these days and this very weekend, we spotted Tom Böttcher who finished day 1 on an impressive 8 - 1 record, joined by his brother Daniel who was trailing just a little behind him with 7 - 2.

    After the first draft concluded, Tom Böttcher still remains in competition, only losing to Raphaël Lévy in the first three rounds of the second day. His brother Daniel has dropped another game and currently sports 8 wins. That should give you enough context to appreciate the following short interview.

    Tom Böttcher is not playing too competitively, but he still wants to beat his brother!

    Please tell us a little about what it's like to grow up with a brother with both of you playing Magic.

    Tom Böttcher: "My brother has been playing the game a lot longer than me, but I'm currently more active than him. I play around 3 events per week in my local store as well as 2 events per day online. In a way, he's responsible for getting me back into the game."

    Oh, so did you take a break from Magic?

    Böttcher: "The first event I was playing in was an Odyssey Block Constructed tournament; I then stopped playing shortly after since we moved while my brother continued playing. I didn't play for a number of years, but at some point, seeing him play reminded me of too many memories and I also started picking up the game again.

    Since he's never taken a break, how serious is he about Magic?

    Böttcher: "He's still not all that serious about it, but it's going quite well for him this weekend.

    "We swapped pools with each other at the start of the tournament and thought that my deck is pretty strong while his didn't look that great. He still managed a 7 - 2 while I ended up on 8 - 1 on the first day. I think we've both been somewhat lucky."

    So you're saying you're not trying to win the Grand Prix?

    Böttcher: "For us, it's mostly about having a great time rather than winning the event. This is the fourth Grand Prix I'm attending and it's the first time I made Day 2."

    "For him, it's also the first Day 2, but I think he's been to a few more Grand Prix than me", he added with a smirk.

    Do you still try to beat his performance when both of you are enrolling in the same event?

    Böttcher: "Of course! We can't help it. When we're both attending the same event, we'll try to beat each other's record, so we're competitive in this one regard and there's a little rivalry going on between us."

    Thank you for the quick interview!

    After this insightful talk, I decided to also have a quick chat with Patrick Dickmann.

    Tell us about your preparation process for an event. Do you test together with your brother?

    Patrick Dickmann: "We're not really testing together. My brother is living in Cologne while I'm living in Bochum. We still talk to each other prior to events to bounce some ideas off each other, but that can sometimes lead to huge discussions.

    "After all, since we're brothers, we don't always use the nicest ways to explain our thoughts and we also like to give each other a little bit of heat."

    Patrick Dickmann is looking forward to a Pro Tour he can play together with his brother Fabian.

    So would you say he's giving you plenty of valuable input?

    Dickmann: "We have a very similar playing style, so it doesn't really pay out for us to talk too much about deck ideas with each other. It is often a little more helpful to involve a third party that can provide us with a fresh perspective, which we can then discuss between the two or three of us."

    "Unfortunately, we have never been qualified for the same Pro Tour so far. I'm looking forward to the day when we can prepare for one of these high level events together. I think it could be lots of fun and we could go very far at that event then."

    Thank you for the quick interview!




     

  • Quick Question #6:
    Your Favorite First Pick in This Draft Format?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Olle Råde: Eidolon of Countless Battles. Apart from all the rares and mythics I also like Akroan Skyguard.
    Martin Jůza: Eidolon of Countless Battles. It's the best card in the whole format.
    Raphaël Lévy: Arbiter of the Ideal. It's not the strongest card, strictly speaking, but I like it and it works so well with a lot of late picks like Crypsis.
    Thomas Holzinger: Setessan Oathsworn, the green Wingsteed Rider! Actually, Courser of Kruphix may be a better answer, though the Oathsworn gets more style points and is definitely underrated.



     

  • Sunday, 1:45 p.m. - Draft Feature Robert Jurkovic

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Robert Jurkovic is one of the old school Pros, having made his debut at the Pro Tour back in Mainz in 1997. He came close several times at the grandest stages of them all, ending up in the Top 16 of both the World Championship as well as Pro Tour Austin. Also, he has won his National Championship plenty of times, so you clearly shouldn't underestimate the skills of this veteran. Let's see how this draft would go for him.

    Robert Jurkovic

    His first pack featured the following cards: Skyreaping, Mischief and Mayhem, Thassa's Rebuff, Rise to the Challenge, Nullify, Revoke Existence and Nyxborn Rollicker. An Akroan Skyguard quickly moved to the front, but Mischief and Mayhem also seemed tempting. Jurkovic went through the contents of the pack a few more times before he decided on Akroan Skyguard.

    Satyr Nyx-Smith, Snake of the Golden Grove, Scouring Sands, Fearsome Temper, Sphinx's Disciple, Fanatic of Xenagos were among the cards in the second pack and the Satyr Nyx-Smith and Fearsome Temper moved to the front. In the end, the Nyx-Smith made the cut.

    The third booster featured another Akroan Skyguard, Mortal's Ardor, Griffin Dreamfinder and the other cards quickly got discarded by Jurkovic. He added a second copy of the Skyguard.

    He then saw Grisly Transformation, Dawn to Dusk, Satyr Wayfinder, a Loyal Pegasus and an Oreskos Sun Guide. The white cards once again moved to the front and the Oreskos Sun Guide got added.

    Pillar of War, Sudden Storm, Ashiok's Adept, Forsaken Drifters, Aerie Worshippers and Crypsis all moved to the front of the next pack. Aerie Worshippers got picked and Jurkovic was now clearly considering to pair white up with blue.

    He then saw Deepwater Hypnotist, Nyxborn Eidolon, Revoke Existence, another Oreskos Sun Guide and Griffin Dreamfinder. He picked a second Sun Guide.


    Revoke Existence, Nyxborn Shieldmate (that immediately moved to the front), Satyr Wayfinder and a couple of black cards could all be found in the next pack, but the Shieldmate made the cut.

    Jurkovic now saw Ephara's Radiance, Fearsome Temper, Floodtide Serpent, Perplexing Chimera and here he decided on Fearsome Temper.

    Revoke Existence, Thassa's Rebuff and Skyreaping came round, with Revoke Existence getting picked.

    Then Ephara's Radiance, Deepwater Hypnotist and Springleaf Drum caused him to add the Hypnotist.

    He then received another red card, he picked Chromanticore over Sphinx's Disciple, he added Charging Badger and the last card he received was Claim of Erebos.

    After Pack 1

    Jurkovic was deep in white with plenty of aggressive creatures, but he hadn't quite decided which color he wanted to pair up with it. Both red and blue cards had been picked up along the way and so far, there didn't seem to be a clear favorite among them for Jurkovic.

    Booster 2

    The second booster featured Arbor Colossus, Stoneshock Giant, Spearpoint Oread and Baleful Eidolon as well as an Omenspeaker. The Spearpoint Oread moved to the front and stayed there until the judge prompted the players to pick a card. Jurkovic apparently wanted to go into red.

    13 cards remained in the next pack, among them Setessan Griffin, Deathbellow Raider, Divine Verdict, Wavecrash Triton and Triton Tactics. This one seemed tough judging by his expression, but Jurkovic settled on Divine Verdict.

    He then received Demolish, Ordeal of Thassa, Triad of Fates and Observant Alseid. Jurkovic went with the Observant Alseid here.

    Favored Hoplite, Gods Willing, Fabled Hero were a lot of good white cards and Fabled Hero seemed to be the strongest one here.


    Satyr Hedonist, Borderland Minotaur, Evangel of Heliod, Battlewise Hoplite were among the cards in the following booster and Jurkovic chose the Hoplite.

    Cutthroat Maneuver, Cavalry Pegasus, Horizon Scholar - Cavalry Pegasus.

    Jurkovic now received Witches' Eye, Ordeal of Heliod and Breaching Hippocamp and he quickly added the Ordeal.

    Only seven cards were left in the next pack, among them Daxos of Meletis, Fate Foretold, Spearpoint Oread and Jurkovic went with the latter.

    Scholar of Athreos, Annul, Benthic Giant - Annul got added.

    He then saw Aqueous Form, Nylea's Presence and Fleetfeather Sandals and he chose the Form.

    Ephara's Warden was next, he then got Ray of Dissolution, Guardians of Meletis and a black card that he didn't look at for too long.

    After Pack 2

    Battlewise Hoplite certainly seemed like a good addition for a white and blue deck, but Jurkovic actually wanted to be red if his picks were any indication. He could have ended up with a three-colored deck, but thanks to his strong white core, even that might work out well enough.

    Booster 3

    We were now down to the last boosters. The pack Jurkovic opened featured Phalanx Leader, Arena Athlete, Hopeful Eidolon and a couple of blue spells, but none of them seemed to be close. Hopeful Eidolon or Phalanx Leader was the question on Jurkovic's mind and he went with the Leader.

    Next, he saw Lagonna-Band Elder, Glare of Heresy and Dragon Mantle and he chose the latter.

    12 cards remained in the booster, among them Traveling Philosopher, Observant Alseid, Ordeal of Purphoros and this time, the Ordeal of Purphoros was his card of choice.

    Jurkovic had to decide between Chosen by Heliod, Breaching Hippocamp, Two-Headed Cerberus, Traveler's Amulet and a Setessan Griffin. He opted to go with the Two-Headed Cerberus.

    Evangel of Heliod, Wild Celebrants, Boon of Erebos, Nylea's Presence, Wavecrash Triton were next as well as Breaching Hippocamp. He picked the latter.

    Akroan Crusader, Wingsteed Rider, Spark Jolt and Cavalry Pegasus made it easy for Jurkovic who quickly chose Wingsteed Rider.


    Defend the Hearth, Wild Celebrants, Viper's Kiss, Vulpine Goliath and Silent Artisan came round; this time, Wild Celebrants did make the cut.

    Yoked Ox, Feral Invocation, Gainsay, Destructive Revelry were next; Jurkovic went with Gainsay.

    Only six more cards for his deck; he got passed a Ray of Dissolution as well as a Swan Song, but he instead went with a green card I couldn't quite make out.

    Glare of Heresy over Setessan Griffin was next.

    Then he added Portent of Betrayal rather than Satyr Piper.

    He saw another Setessan Griffin and he picked it over Satyr Piper, Evangel of Helio was next and he then got passed his last card that concluded the draft.

    After Pack 3

    Lots of floating for Robert Jurkovic in this draft. He started with white which served him well, but his decision to move into blue next might have been the wrong call. That's at least what he might have thought to himself since he started adding more and more red cards eventually.

    After the draft, I quickly checked with him and he basically just shook his head. He told me that he would definitely try and play a white and red deck and avoid splashing blue, but there's a certain chance he might have to. Let's see if he can still manage to make the cut for the Top 8; he definitely can't afford to lose more than one match.




     

  • Round 13 Feature Match – Christian Seibold vs. Petr Brozek

    by Tobi Henke

  • Christian Seibold doesn't do a lot of losing these days, it seems. Four weeks ago, he made it all the way to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Born of the Gods, three weeks ago he outright won Grand Prix Barcelona alongside teammates Daniel and Tobias Gräfensteiner, and yesterday he managed to win every single one of his matches. The day so far, however, didn't go quite as smoothly. After three rounds, he had converted his 9-0 start into a somewhat disappointing 10-2. Still in contention for Top 8, this record didn't allow for any more losses.

    The same was true, of course, for Petr Brozek who was looking to add a third Grand Prix Top 8 to his résumé this weekend. To this end, he had drafted a strong black-white bestow deck. Seibold's brought a rather similar design in blue and white to the table, and it was interesting to see whose deck would prevail.

    Game One

    Here, Brozek's deck got off to an impressive start: Traveling Philosopher, bestowed Nyxborn Shieldmate, bestowed Hopeful Eidolon, followed by Wingsteed Rider and bestowed Spiteful Returned for that; as well as a Baleful Eidolon for defense.


    Any Retraction Helix, Griptide, or Sudden Storm could have turned the game in Seibold's favor at a moment's notice. But despite drawing three cards from the combination of Stratus Walk and Floodtide Serpent nothing of the likes was forthcoming, and Seibold quickly succumbed to Brozek's better, or better equipped, creatures.

    Game Two

    The second game was similarly lopsided and was decided by Seibold's Bident of Thassa. After both players had mulliganed, Seibold led with Crackling Triton and the aforementioned Bident, while Brozek only had his first play on turn four in the form of Hopeful Eidolon. The lonely 1/1, or rather the threat of whatever might be lurking in Brozek's hand to go along with it, kept Crackling Triton at bay for a turn.


    But on the next turn, after countering Gray Merchant of Asphodel with Nullify, Seibold attacked with Triton and Traveling Philosopher and drew the first extra cards. He added Phalanx Leader and Battlewise Hoplite to his team, used Bident of Thassa's activated ability to clear the way, cast Ephara's Enlightenment on Phalanx Leader ... The cards kept flowing and Brozek never stood a chance.

    Game Three

    The final game was a real nailbiter, full of back and forths, and a worthy conclusion to an exciting match. Early on, Brozek took the lead by heaping Nyxborn Shieldmate and Hopeful Eidolon on his Blood-Toll Harpy. Seibold had Ephara's Enlightenment for his Triton Fortune Hunter, but despite the extra card he only found his fourth land when he cast Stratus Walk on the Hunter on turn five. He then kept his 3/3 Hunter and two lands untapped to be able to take down the opposing 4/4 Harpy with the assistance of Battlewise Valor. Brozek didn't attack, though, and instead cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Seibold had no fifth land but desperately needed to cast Crackling Triton as a blocker for the Gray Merchant.


    Leaving one Plains untapped, he represented Mortal's Ardor and Brozek bought it. He didn't attack with his 4/4 flier which was one of the turning points of the game. When he finally drew lands again, Seibold was able to stabilize, and his Lagonna Band-Elder and Ray of Dissolution even recouped enough life to allow some breathing room. Although, now time was running out and Brozek still sported a massive life total thanks to his earlier lifelink beatdown.

    In a hurry, Seibold forgot to add a second counter to his Battlewise Hoplite when he cast Ephara's Enlightenment on it, then was apparently so shaken by the mistake that he forgot to return Ephara's Enlightenment when he cast another creature, and prompty lost both Hoplite and Enlightenment to Brozek's Sip of Hemlock. An endless stream of creatures, attacks, blocks, trades and life total reductions followed, the latter mostly on Brozek's side.

    Seibold was definitely getting ahead but he did get to face one last obstacle: Close to the end of the game, Keepsake Gorgon threatened a last-ditch comeback for Brozek. However, Seibold quadruple-blocked it, then responded to the activation of its monstrous ability with Last Breath, trading one for one, which usually is quite hard to do against Keepsake Gorgon and seven mana.

    Seibold finally won on his second extra turn.

    Christian Seibold 2-1 Petr Brozek

    Nevertheless, Seibold wasn't happy with his performance during the game, saying that he'd made a couple of mistakes, "Especially the situation with Ephara's Enlightenment." To be fair, though, there were an incredible amount of decisions involved here, and he actually only won because of his succesful bluff early in game three.




     

  • Round 14 Feature Match – Robert Jurkovic vs. Andreas Lesch

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • Since we had done a draft feature with Robert Jurkovic, we thought it would be fitting to also invite him over to the feature match area. He had to go up against Andreas Lesch from Germany who was running a white and green deck that would now have to compete with Jurkovic's aggressive white and red creation.

    Speaking of aggressive, Jurkovic wasted no time, starting with a Cavalry Pegasus that got enchanted with a Dragon Mantle together with an Impetuous Sunchaser.

    Robert Jurkovic had a very aggressive start in the first game!

    Lesch was falling behind in the damage race and fast, with only a Bronze Sable on the field. His turn 3 Nylea's Presence also didn't seem to be helping too much to stem the bleeding.

    Jurkovic on the other hand found an Ordeal of Heliod to turn his Impetuous Sunchaser into an even more formidable threat and once again, his fliers went in, leaving Lesch on just 13 life.

    Lesch was currently more than just a little behind in this race.

    Excoriate took out the Sunchaser, but Jurkovic wasn't running out of fliers anytime soon, this time adding a Setessan Griffin. While Lesch tried to stay in the race with the help of an enchantment for his Bronze Sable, he never found a way to stop Jurkovic's white creatures. A Fearsome Temper on the Griffin put Lesch on an even bigger clock who now decided to just smirk, staring down this formidable flying army.

    Robert Jurovic had more than enough threats to deal lethal!

    Lesch attacked with Bronze Sable while Satyr Wayfinder stood at the ready. Jurkovic declared attacks on his following turn and Lesch simply said "Okay" before he accessed his sideboard.

    Robert Jurkovic 1 - 0 Andreas Lesch

    The second game seemed much more promising for Lesch who had a great start with Sedge Scorpion followed by Favored Hoplite and Observant Alseid.

    Jurkovic was once again relying on fliers, finding an Akroan Skyguard and Wingsteed Rider on his second and third turn, respectively.

    Sedge Scorpion made it 16 on Jurkovic and Lesch added Setessan Oathsworn. His offensive efforts had slowed down momentarily.

    Jurkovic slowly started to turn the game around!

    A second Akroan Skyguard followed by Glare of Heresy for Observant Alseid turned things in Jurkovic's favor, but Lesch wasn't quite out of options just yet; Ordeal of Heliod turned his Setessan Oathsworn into a very formidable threat and he attacked with both it and Sedge Scorpion with one Akroan Skyguard trading with the Scorpion.

    Jurkovic attacked with his two remaining creatures before adding Oreskos Sun Guide and Phalanx Leader - powerful creatures, but he was running out of time since Setessan Oathsworn made it 6 life for him the following turn. Lesch passed without making any other plays.

    A Dragon Mantle triggered the Phalanx Leader!

    Jurkovic did find an enchantment for Phalanx Leader in Dragon Mantle. While it left the field shortly after thanks to Lesch's Artisan's Sorrow, the effect of the leader still triggered and Jurkovic's fliers became a lot more threatening.

    Jurkovic also continued to buy himself more and more time with Oreskos Sun Guide. He was already back on 8 life when an Ordeal of Purphoros on Phalanx Leader once again triggered its effect, so Jurkovic's army grew again. Attacks with all creatures followed after Favored Hoplite left the field thanks to the effect of the Ordeal that triggered and suddenly Lesch was hanging in the ropes with just 7 life!

    This game would have been over right then and there if it weren't for a huge Skyreaping from Lesch!

    Skyreaping cost Jurkovic 2 of his creatures!

    Lesch also found a Swordwise Centaur, which fell to the now huge Phalanx Leader the turn after. Setessan Oathsworn kept fighting the good fight, but thanks to the heal from Oreskos Sun Guide, Jurkovic was still not quite out of life.

    Lesch was now forced to stand still, adding a Voyaging Satyr. Jurkovic had a Spearpoint Oread. That still wasn't enough to get the crucial points of damage in for Jurkovic, but when he flashed a Satyr Nyx-Smith the following turn, Lesch immediately extended the hand.

    Despite not being too pleased with his draft, Robert Jurkovic was able to claim a victory here thanks to his army of white flying creatures. He is now just one more win away from advancing to the Top 8!




     

  • Sunday, 5:30 p.m. - Bringing Elspeth to Life

    by Oliver Gehrmann

  • One player that caused quite a few neck injuries this weekend was Dora Šabec from Slovenia. She decided to show up in an Elspeth, Sun's Champion cosplay this weekend! Most of the players that saw her started to take a second or third look, which isn't all too surprising once you see the level of detail she applied to her costume.


    Dora Šabec playing as Elspeth, Sun's Champion!

    How come you decided to show up as Elspeth this weekend?

    Šabec: "I just like to Cosplay and I had this costume at home. I did it for the Prerelease of Born of the Godsand I felt like I had to wear it again since it turned out so great."

    What were the responses like from the players that saw you?

    Šabec: "Everybody has been really friendly and many of the guys wanted to take pictures with me."

    Would you enjoy it more if there were more cosplayers at these events?

    Šabec: "I don't know. It's not too bad to be the only one since it's then easier to stand out in the crowd."

    How many cosplays did you create already?

    Šabec: "I usually do around one cosplay per year. Carneval is a big deal in Slovenia and I always want to show up there with a unique costume. That's how I first got into it."

    And do you always cosplay Magic characters?

    Šabec: "This is the first time I did a Magic cosplay, so that's new for me. I do enjoy it a lot though, mostly for its fantasy background. I'm starting to get more into the game as well, but I have only been playing it for two months."


    The stunning Elspeth costume that Dora Šabec created!

    I saw that you're running a white and black deck. Do you also run Elspeth?

    Šabec: "Sadly, I don't own the card; as soon as I open one, I'll add her to my decks. I promise to never sell her!"

    Will we see you more often at the larger events from now on?

    Šabec: "I will probably attend all the events we have in Slovenia as well as the Grand Prix that are somewhat close to me. It's quite a hassle to transport all the parts of the costume to the event venue and this only really works when we can drive there like we did this weekend. Who knows, I might show up in Warsaw again with the costume."

    Will you also start cosplaying other Magic characters or will you stick with Elspeth?

    Šabec: "There's a chance I'll create a new costume for the next Prerelease. It feels more special if you only wear them a few select times rather than all the time. It's just nice to make a new costume every once in a while."

    Thank you for the quick interview!




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