Day 1 Coverage of Grand Prix Warsaw

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The letter A!fter nine rounds of Standard play, Day One is done. Out of the original 984 players, 162 have earned the right to come back tomorrow and compete for the title of Grand Prix Warsaw Champion.

We've seen all kinds of interesting cards and decks competing today. The biggest stories to come out of Day 1 were the continued dominance of Jund, Gruul aggro, and UWR Flash, and the surprising revitalization of Bant Hexproof.

At the end of this first day, only five players remain undefeated: Sébastien Wilmotte from Belgium, Jens Brouwer from Germany, Niklas Ramquist from England, Wenzel Krautmann from Germany, and Tomas Kuchta from the Czech Republic are sitting on top of the standings with perfect 9-0 records.

But despite their great starts, these players will need to prove themselves tomorrow as we have Marcio Carvalho, Denniz Rachid, Frederico Bastos, Przemek Oberbek, Bart van Etten, Michael Bonde, Felipe Tapia Becerra, and plenty of other top players lurking behind them with 8-1 records.

Join us here tomorrow for more text and video coverage as we see who of the 162 can successfully navigate through six more rounds of Standard to make it to the Top 8! Sunday's livestream is expected to start at approximately 9 a.m. CET (i.e., 3 a.m. EST).


  • Saturday, 10:44 a.m. — Kibler Gruul Dominates at the Trials

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter A!s is tradition, the Grand Prix weekend started early with a number of last-chance Grand Prix Trials on Friday. We have compiled almost all of the winning deck lists from these events to glean a first glimpse into the metagame we can expect to see throughout the tournament.

    The big story here: Kibler Gruul! The following lists are sorted into two categories. First are decks that have the exact same 60 main-deck cards that Brian Kibler used to go undefeated in the Standard portion of last week's World Championships. Second are other decks. Both categories make up half of the winning lists, that is, the Gruul deck won half of all Trials. Quite an astonishing feat!

    Sepp Jansen
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Per Carlsson
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Mihai Birsan
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Florian Hüpper
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Frank van Rijn
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Natalia Stankiewicz
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    George Perikleous
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    David Gonzáles
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Ola Håkansson
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard

    Lukas Jurnicek
    Grand Prix Trial Winner — Standard


  • Saturday, 11:08 a.m. — From Calgary to Amsterdam to Warsaw: Standard with Magic 2014

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter T!wo weekends ago, Grand Prix Calgary set the stage for Magic 2014 Standard. Blake Rasmussen provided a good introduction to the plethora of viable deck archetypes, but two decks stood out: Jund (Stephane Gerard piloted a Lifebane Zombie version to a 2nd place finish) and UWR Flash (Alexander Hayne claimed the trophy with Snapcaster Mage, Warleader's Helix, and other instant-speed goodies). The Top 8 decklists from Grand Prix Calgary can be found here.

    Alexander Hayne took the trophy in Calgary with UWR Flash.

    Immediately after, we had the most prestigious tournaments of the year, the Magic World Championship and the World Magic Cup, both of which featured Standard.

    At the World Championship, 13 out of the 16 competitors armed themselves with either Jund or UWR Flash, solidifying these as Standard's most dominant archetypes. Dissident Brian Kibler, however, came to battle with a well-positioned Gruul Aggro deck, aiming to defeat UWR Flash with Domri Rade and Burning Earth. It worked: he massacred the competition and went undefeated in the Standard rounds. For more detail, you can check out all the decklists as well as an overview of decks, card choices, and metagame musings.

    Dragonmaster Brian Kibler's Gruul aggro deck has thundered into Standard.

    At the World Magic Cup, the most popular archetypes during Saturday's Team Unified Standard rounds were UWR Flash, Jund, and Kibler's Gruul deck. But besides those three decks, there were several off-beat choices as well. We saw Elfball decks aiming to ramp into Garruk, Caller of Beasts and Craterhoof Behemoth. We saw Rapid Hybridization and Young Wolf paired together. We saw a resurgence of Zombies, and a smattering of Aristocrats. We saw control players who were terrified of Burning Earth cutting down to two colors only. And we saw France take down the trophy with Raphaël Lévy's innovative mono-green Ooze deck. For more detail, you can check out the World Magic Cup decklists and metagame analysis.

    Ooze playing mono-green this weekend? The deck features Predator Ooze and Druid's Familiar, a.k.a. the green Hellrider.

    This weekend, we're in Warsaw, and we will get to see how the Standard format evolves.

    Nobody in the hall seems to be entirely sure what to expect, but some questions are on everyone's mind. Will Jund, UWR Flash, and Gruul aggro continue to dominate? Will Jund turn out to be a trap, or can it be tuned to beat UWR Flash and Gruul aggro? Will we see more of Lévy's mono-green Ooze deck, especially now that there are no more Team Unified restrictions to tie up Scavening Ooze? Or will ardent metagamers outmaneuver the field with a clever deck choice — perhaps Reanimator to peck off UWR, or Unflinching Courage decks to take an advantage of the likely uptick in Gruul aggro?

    I can't wait to see how it all pans out.


  • Saturday, 12:05 p.m. — Metagame of the 25

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter W!ith almost a thousand players in the room, there's no chance we could tell you about the whole of the Day 1 metagame. Something we can tell you about, however, is the anonymized deck choices of a select group of 25 players (Pro Tour champions, Hall of Famers, Grand Prix Top 8 collectors, Platinum pros, and other masters of the game) that we picked to shine a spotlight on:

    • Frederico Bastos
    • Marcio Carvalho
    • Tiago Chan
    • Stanislav Cifka
    • Antonino de Rosa
    • Jeremy Dezani
    • Mark Dictus
    • Reid Duke
    • Ivan Floch
    • Remi Fortier
    • Thomas Holzinger
    • Gabor Kocsis
    • Florian Koch
    • Mateusz Kopec
    • Tzu Ching Kuo
    • Andre Mueller
    • Shuuhei Nakamura
    • Kenny Oberg
    • Elie Pichon
    • Allessandro Portaro
    • Denniz Rachid
    • Shahar Shenhar
    • Timothée Simonot
    • Pierre Sommen
    • Helmut Summersberger
    • Josh Utter-Leyton
    • Peter Vieren
    • Yuuya Watanabe
    • Elias Watsfeldt

    Here's the archetype breakdown of what this group of very talented players is running:

    UWR Flash 6
    Jund Midrange 6
    Gruul Aggro 6
    Esper Control 2
    UW Control 1
    WBR Aristocrats 1
    WBG Aristocrats 1
    Bant Hexproof 1
    Red-green Craterhoof Behemoth 1

    The early predictions seem to have come true; the three decks that everyone was expecting are well represented. Yet, as always, there is some innovation going on. For example, most Gruul players have more or less copied Brian Kibler's list from the World Championship, but others have made some tweaks and have found room for Wolfir Silverheart and Rancor. And there are always some fresh, new brews... red-green Hoof, anyone?

    More on Sunday, when we have a detailed breakdown of all Day 2 decks for you!


  • Saturday, 12:55 p.m. — Talking about the World Magic Cup

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter L!ast week, 71 countries send their teams to Amsterdam to vie for the title of World Magic Cup champion. I decided to talk to two team captains about the WMC, the WMCQ system, and their experiences, and who better to interview than Raphaël Lévy who led France to victory in this year's team competition. But first, for comparison, Luxembourg's Steve Hatto had to share his unique perspective as a representative of a rather small, if not the smallest, country in the mix.

    "The WMCQ system is perfect for a small country such as ours," said Hatto. "The whole community shows up at each of our Qualifiers anyway, so it's not as if we've lost Nationals, but rather as if we now have three Nationals per year. I understand that's very different elsewhere, of course.

    Steve Hatto

    "Also, it's easier for us to get younger or newer players into the competitive tournament scene this way, especially in a country that doesn't get many Pro Tour Qualifiers," he explained. "The youngest member of our World Cup team this year, for example, had only played in one PTQ before he won his WMCQ. From FNM to WMC in just one step!"

    About the Luxembourg team's preparation for the World Cup, Hatto said: "Since basically everyone lives just like ten minutes away from each other we could always meet in real life, which was a big boon to our testing process. We put the biggest emphasis on Standard, and went undefeated in the Standard portion too." (He showed me the deck he was piloting then and is again playing this weekend, and there may be a deck tech piece coming up later.)

    "Overall, the World Magic Cup was a great experience, especially getting to see the world's elite in the World Championship up close," Hatto said. "I'm always impressed with the politeness and fair play at this highest level of Magic. The cutthroat mentality you sometimes find at PTQs or at a Grand Prix is completely absent there."

    Raphaël Lévy

    For a different perspective, let's turn to Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy of France. "The WMC system is special in that you don't get to choose your teammates," said Lévy. "As a team captain, if you get a team with other more experienced players that's obviously a huge advantage. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, though. Maybe the qualification process could be changed to allow for a little less variance there."

    About the event as such, Lévy was obviously very happy. "In any case, representing your country is awesome, and then winning is even more awesome. It was an amazing experience," he said, and added: "Would do it again."

    If you'd like to hear more about Lévy's World Magic Cup experience tune in to our live stream at with our hosts Marijn Lybaert and Raphaël Lévy, who both still have some stories from last weekend left to tell!


  • Saturday, 2:04 p.m. — Catching up with the World Championship Competitors

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter A!mong the many people here in attendance today, I found several familiar faces. Specifically, players who competed in the World Championship in Amsterdam a week ago. During Round 3, when all of them were enjoying their byes, I sat down with some of them, hoping to learn more about their overall experience in Amsterdam and the Standard decks they are running today.

    Sitting at a table in the main hall, I spotted Czech superstars Martin Juza and Stanislav Cifka, in addition Japanese globetrotters Shuhei Nakamura and Yuya Watanabe.

    Juza showing off his glasses that a friend have him for good luck. Watanabe is sceptical.

    I first asked them about their experience in Amsterdam and what their favorite part was. That was dangerous question to ask Juza, who only managed to win 2 out of his 16 matches in Amsterdam. "I don't think I had a favorite part," he said, despondently. But then he smiled. "Nah, I'm kidding. It was a great atmosphere and a super-great tournament to be playing." Cifka agreed: "Even though we were playing a lot of mirror matches and we were playing against friends that I didn't want to beat, I liked the tournament a lot. We got to play Magic at a very high level, and that was great."

    Nakamura and Watanabe spent last week at Juza's place in the Czech Republic, but almost missed the Grand Prix. "When we arrived at the airport in Prague, our flight was canceled. They then gave us a 2-hour flight to Budapest where we only had 14 minutes to make our connection," Nakamura said. "What? Budapest? That's in the opposite direction!" Cifka exlaimed. Nevertheless, the Japanese players managed to arrive just in time, and today they are eager to show off their skills in Standard.

    As for Standard, all four switched decks. "It's a completely different tournament," Juza explained. "In Amsterdam, we expected Jund and UWR, and you could easily play a deck with an auto-loss against mono-red, because none of the 16 players was going to play that. Here, you can play against everything: Hexproof, tokens, etcetera."

    Accordingly, Cifka and Juza, who played UWR at the World Championship, switched to UW, cutting the red in fear of Burning Earth. Juza had another reason for choosing the deck: "When you're winning, you're winning by so much, casting Sphinx's Revelation for 8 and whatnot. I want to have the feeling of winning for once." Maybe his last-place finish at the World Championship did get to him...

    The two Japanese players, who also ran UWR in Amsterdam, are currently on a mix between Raphael Levy's mono-green Ooze deck and Brian Kibler's Gruul aggro deck: They combine Wolfir Silverheart, Predator Ooze, and Rancor with Burning Earth. "It's good against Kibler's Gruul aggro deck, pretty good against UWR, and okay versus Jund," Nakamura said. A decklist for their innovative take on red-green later will be provided later this weekend.

    I then walked around the venue and found Reid Duke and Josh Utter-Leyton at the cafeteria. The two World Championship competitors had extended their stay in Amsterdam for a week together with Shahar Shenhar and Joe Spaniel, who made the trip to Warsaw as well.

    Reid Duke and Josh Utter-Leyton in the cafeteria, waiting for Round 4 to start.

    "Amsterdam is my favorite city," Reid Duke said. "My very first Pro Tour was in Amsterdam, and it was great to be back. We had a pretty good week of touristy stuff, checking out the nightlife, watching back the Worlds Week coverage, and testing Standard for this tournament."

    "My experience in Amsterdam was awesome," Utter-Leyton mentioned. "The World Championship and the World Magic Cup are my favorite tournaments by far to play in. The World Championship is simultaneously the most casual and most competitive tournament to play in. The World Magic Cup was also a great experience. Not just the team aspect, but getting to represent my own country."

    Regarding Standard, both stuck with more or less the same Jund decks that they played at the World Championships. However, they made some small tweaks to adjust for the evolving metagame.

    "I gave lots of consideration to Lifebane Zombie, but ended up not playing it," Duke said. "It's a good card, but I was happy with the way the deck was operating. I did add Golgari Charm because of Burning Earth."

    "I cut Tragic Slip," Utter-Leyton said. "I have Acidic Slime now. It's good against UWR and Jund, especially to destroy Assemble the Legion and Underworld Connection."


  • Round 4 Feature Match — Stanislav Cifka vs. Reid Duke

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter I!n this high-profile match between two superstars of the game, X-spells (Sphinx's Revelation, Rakdos's Return) and -lands (Kessig Wolf Run) clashed and provided some highly entertaining back and forth.

    Both players are relative recent additions to the elite circle of Magic's highest level, only making a name for themselves within the last couple of years, but they clearly are here to stay. Or to put it more accurately, to go places, as both made Warsaw a stop on their busy travel itinerary from Amsterdam where they took part in the 16-player World Championship last week.

    Reid Duke

    Here in Warsaw, Duke was again playing Jund, to no one's surprise — in fact, Shuhei Nakamura looked over from his feature match and joked: "Jund? How come?" Cifka, on the other hand, brought a new blue-white deck, heavily geared toward controlling the game almost indefinitely.

    The first game was characterized by a number of trades, both on a small scale — Essence Scatter versus Huntmaster of the Fells, or Syncopate versus Garruk, Primal Hunter — and on a larger scale — Rakdo's Return emptied Cifka's hand, Sphinx's Revelation refilled it. Meanwhile, Duke's Kessig Wolf Run meant that every creature of his, every token provided by Garruk or left behind by Thragtusk posed a sizable threat.

    Still, between all his Detenion Spheres, Azorius Charms, and Supreme Verdicts, Cifka was able to get rid of each and very one of them. He eventually lost both Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Jace, Architect of Thought to intermittent attacks, but this left him at a comfortable lifetotal. When Cifka cast Sphinx's Revelation for seven, then a couple of turns later, again cast Sphinx's Revelation for seven, the game was clearly going down the hill for Duke. Another Jace, Architect of Thought and Elixir of Immortality from Cifka finally prompted Duke to "concede in the interest of time."

    Stanislav Cifka

    In game two, Cifka went to four lands without a problem, but couldn't find another for a number of turns. He couldn't capitalize on the Sphinx's Revelation in his hand and neither could he cast more than one spell per turn. When first one Scavenging Ooze and then another started their somewhat tentative beatdown, Cifka was forced to take action on his turn. Haunted Plate Mail left an opening for Duke to cast Liliana of the Veil, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage allowed Duke to get in Rakdos's Return. Without cards in hand, facing lethal damage and Liliana of the Veil, Cifka soon picked up his cards for game three.

    Here, the fortunes again favored Cifka. Duke found his third land only after Cifka had already cast Think Twice twice as well as Jace, Architect of Thought. And he only found said land with the help of Farseek. And only to immediately lose it again to Tamiyo, the Moon Sage's stranglehold. While Duke did draw some more lands eventually — Cifka's deck wasn't particularly quick to deal the actual deah blow — the game wasn't much of a game at all and ended with Tamiyo's ultimate ability recurring Render Silent.

    Stanislav Cifka defeated Reid Duke two games to one to advance to 4-0.


  • Saturday, 3:20 p.m. — Beststellers from M14 (and Others)

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter T!he traders were particularly busy this morning, when players struggled to complete their Standard decks at the last minute. Screams of "Lifebane Zombie! Lifebane Zombie!" could be heard all around, and there was quite a run to scoop up the hot items from Magic's newest release Magic 2014 . Now, with the early rush over, we found some time to ask: What cards were players most interested in, one week after the World Championship and the World Magic Cup set the stage for Standard?

    "Lifebane Zombie! Lifebane Zombie!" was the card on top of everyone's list and mind. "We're also completely sold out on Xathrid Necromancer and almost all our Scavenging Oozes are gone too," said one dealer. "Also a big thing was Burning Earth. Apparently everyone's playing Gruul or mono-red," another trader speculated, a trend we've already seen at yesterday's Grand Prix Trials.

    Despite the high demand for Burning Earth, the Ravnica duals still sold well as well. "Archangel of Thune went reasonably, as did Chandra, Pyromaster, but not as crazy as Lifebane Zombie. Oh, and we also sold a huge number of Desecration Demons and quite a few Thundermaw Hellkites," the traders concluded.

    Whether demand for Lifebane Zombie will continue to rise or whether it already peaked this Saturday remains to be seen, of course. Tomorrow's Top 8 will definitely shed more light on the topic.


  • Round 6 Feature Match — Josh Utter-Leyton vs. Piotr Wald

    by Tobi Henke

  • The letter T!he age-old battle between Jund and blue/white-based control went into another round this round, when Piotr Wald faced off against Josh Utter-Leyton. Wald had one previous Grand Prix Top 8 to his name, whereas Utter-Leyton had seven to go along with four Sunday appearances at the Pro Tour. Clearly, Wald was the underdog here, but the 19-year-old local from Warsaw didn't let that stop him. In a match completely marred by mana troubles on Utter-Leytons side, Wald rode Ætherling to an easy victory.

    In the first game, Utter-Leyton was stuck on two lands until turn six — casting two Scavenging Oozes and losing both to Supreme Verdict — and then didn't even have a play for three mana. Next turn, Wald countered Huntmaster of the Fells with Essence Scatter, untapped, played a seventh land, and summoned Ætherling. More Huntmasters were no match for the mighty 'ling and a second Ætherling soon sealed the deal.

    Josh Utter-Leyton

    In the second game, Utter-Leyton again struggled with uncooperative mana, possibly even worse than before. Stuck on just green and black sources, Lifebane Zombie remained his only play for a while and this one didn't even find a creature in Wald's hand. Getting the 3/1 returned to the top of the library certainly didn't help either. Then his Liliana of the Veil met Counterflux, Underworld Connections met Negate, Farseek met another Negate, Acidic Slime, however, resolved. Thragtusk met Turn & Burn, Acidic Slime met Detention Sphere, and another Acidic Slime met Syncopate.

    You'll notice that Utter-Leyton still had not cast a single red spell at this point for the very simple reason that he indeed hadn't drawn any source of red mana yet. Then came down Ætherling on his opponent's side. Utter-Leyton fought back valiantly with another Liliana and another Thragtusk which bought some time but ultimately proved pointless. Ætherling, as it's known to do, went all the way.

    Piotr Wald

    All in all, the game took 17 turns and Utter-Leyton never saw a single source of red mana, dying with various Olivia Voldarens, Huntmasters, and Rakdos's Returns in hand. As Wald put it, "I hope we play again and then have a real game." Utter-Leyton had no objection here.


  • Saturday, 5:50 p.m. — Deck Tech: Gruul Elfball with Mark Dictus

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter M!ark Dictus is a 43-year game store owner from Antwerp, Belgium who made it to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Gothenburg earlier this year. But that was Limited; how about his skills in Standard? Well, he certainly showed up with a surprising deck: Gruul Elfball. It's similar to the fun and powerful Elfball deck that Gaudenis Vidaguris played at the World Magic Cup — see his deck tech video for more information — but with red instead of white. Here, take a look at the list Dictus' list:

    Mark Dictus, Gruul Elfball, Standard
    Grand Prix Warsaw 2013

    Dictus, currently at a 5-2 record, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the deck.

    How does an ideal draw for the deck look like?

    "The draw you really want is turn 1 Arbor Elf, turn 2 Elvish Archdruid, and then turn 3 Garruk, Caller of Beasts. You do the +1 ability of Garruk, and next turn you put a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth into play. Now that is the dream, but you can easily hit a turn 5 or 6 Craterhoof Behemoth with a more typical draw."

    Why red instead of white?

    "I played a Grand Prix Trial last weekend with the white-green version, and the deck did really well. I made it to the semifinals, losing to the eventual winner, who also ran white-green Elfball. But I realized I was missing a good 3-drop; I didn't like Loxodon Smiter very much because it rarely mattered. And then I came up with Domri Rade, one of the best 3-drops in Standard. It's a card advantage machine that helps me beat Olivia Voldaren.

    Red also gave me access to powerful sideboard cards, too. I have Burning Earth, which I really like in this format full of multi-colored decks, and Mizzium Mortars, which can shore up my weakness to Olivia Voldaren. I then looked at red creatures, and figured that Huntmaster of the Fells would be good. You want to finish with Craterhoof Behemoth, so getting a Wolf token is really relevant. And Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is an insane sideboard card.

    The only thing I'm missing is Gavony Township, which can give you some power if you just draw Elves. But the red just gave more possibilities."

    Any other notable card tweaks you made?

    "I cut Kalonian Hydra for Thragtusk. It's much better against Supreme Verdict and the 5 life matters against aggro."

    Why no Kessig Wolf Run as a Gavony Township replacement?

    "Naming Beast to force through Thragtusk and/or Craterhoof Behemoth is a huge game plan against UWR's countermagic. Besides, the mana base is pretty tight, and Cavern of Souls can act as a mana-fixer, providing the right mana for a first-turn Elvish Mystic or a Huntmaster of the Fells later on."

    What are the good and bad matchups for the deck?

    "I think I'm favored against all aggro decks. What is difficult is heavy control with a lot of sweep effects. Supreme Verdict is the best card against us — it's hard to beat it before sideboarding."

    Can you explain some of your sideboard choices and how you sideboard against the top decks?

    "We don't need all that much against aggro; we board Strangleroot Geists and Tree of Redemption as early blockers, taking out slower cards such as Domri Rade or Yeva, Nature's Herald. Against UWR and Jund, we board in a lot: Strangleroot Geist and Vorapede (they survive Supreme Verdict and Bonfire of the Damned), Yeva, Nature's Herald (for the surprise value), Ruric Thar, the Unbowed (a big dude that is good before and after a sweeper), and Burning Earth (it punishes 3-color decks a lot). We take out Craterhoof Behemoth because they clear your board with sweepers anyway. We also cut Elvish Visionary and Huntmaster of the Fells against the control decks. Oh, I also add Mizzium Mortars when playing against Jund, because an unanswered Olivia Voldaren can spell game over."

    Would you make any changes to the deck?

    "In hindsight, I would like to have more Vorapede and Mizzium Mortars in the sideboard. Tree of Redemption is expendable because between Thragtusk and Huntmaster of the Fells, we have enough against aggro."

    The brewing continues. As always.


  • Saturday, 6:53 p.m. — Quick Question: M14 Card with the Biggest Influence on Standard?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Josh Utter-Leyton: Probably Lifebane Zombie. Actually no! It's Scavenging Ooze.
    Shuhei Nakamura: Scavenging Ooze!
    Alessandro Portaro: Burning Earth. It completely changed the metagame.
    Elias Watsfeldt: Scavenging Ooze.


  • Round 8 Feature Match — Shahar Shenhar vs. Denniz Rachid

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter A! hexproof creature armed with multiple Ethereal Armors can be difficult for UWR Flash to deal with. Will Supreme Verdict and Celestial Flare show up in time?

    The players and their decks

    This feature match pitted together two heavyweights: newly crowned World Champion Shahar Shenhar, who at 19 years is actually younger than the game he excels at, and 26-year old Gold level pro Denniz Rachid, who is studying to become an English and History high school teacher when he's not playing Magic. At 7-0 records, both had already guaranteed their spot in the Day 2.

    Shenhar was running the same deck that he played at the World Championship: UWR Flash. "I think this is the best deck in the format, and I'm very confident playing it," he said.

    Rachid brought Bant Hexproof to the table, even though it was not the deck he was planning on playing. "I lost my luggage," he explained. "I was here on Wednesday, so the airline company had ample time to retrieve it, but it still hasn't arrived yet. I had to buy some new clothes, and borrowed a deck from a friend."

    So if Bant Hexproof was the backup deck, what would his first choice have been? "I was originally going to play Blue-White," Rachid said. This prompted an interesting discussion between the two players. Shenhar considered the version with red to be a little better, but Rachid was too scared of Burning Earth. Well, I guess we'll never know which deck would be better, because instead we're getting a matchup between UWR Flash and Bant Hexproof.

    The games

    In game 1, Rachid had Invisible Stalker on turn 2 and double Ethereal Armor on turn 3. In other words, a 5/5 untargetable, unblockable creature that presented a four-turn clock, and Shenhar was unable to find an answer in time.

    In game 1, Rachid was sceptical that Shenhar could deal with his 5-power Invisible Stalker.

    Then it was time for sideboarding. Rachid in particular was able to improve his deck by bringing in Mending Touch and Spell Rupture, taking out Unflinching Courage.

    In game 2, Rachid had a double-Rancor draw but was a bit light on creatures, so he made sure to only commit one creature at a time. This way, he played around Supreme Verdict. Nevertheless, Shenhar had an answer at the ready for every creature that Rachid presented. First, Rachid's two Voice of Resurgence and subsequent Elemental tokens were dealt with by Azorius Charm, Pillar of Flame, a Restoration Angel block, and so on. Next, Rachid's hexproof creatures fell to the wayside due to Supreme Verdict, Celestial Flare, and Snapcaster Mage. The game took a while, but once Shenhar was able to resolve a big Sphinx's Revelations and refill his hand, it was over.

    In game 2, Shenhar had more creature removal spell than Rachid had creatures.

    In game 3, Rachid had a great draw with turn 1 Avacyn's Pligrim, turn 2 Gladecover Scout, double Ethereal Armor. This presented a blazingly fast clock, but Rachid still had to make sure he played around Shenhar's answers. In particular, Rachid had to play around Celestial Flare. He did that by casting Voice of Resurgence before combat. When Shenhar cast Azorius Charm in response so as to not give Rachid a token, Rachid knew that he didn't have to worry about Celestial Purge. As a result, he could tap his Avacyn's Pilgrim to cast Spectral Flight, and didn't have to send in his mana creature as an attacker to guard against Celestial Flare. It's the little things that matter. Shenhar did find Supreme Verdict on turn 4, but it was already too late: Rachid's early onslaught had put him down to a very low life total already, and the Elemental token that Voice of Resurgence left behind was immediately enchanted by Spectral Flight for lethal damage.

    "Unlucky with the luggage, lucky with the draws," Rachid summed up his tournament experience so far.

    Denniz Rachid defeats Shahar Shenhar 2-1, moving to a pristine 8-0 record.


  • Saturday, 7:58 p.m. — Quick Question: What Decks Did You Expect to See the Most at this Grand Prix...?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Josh Utter-Leyton: Jund, Blue-White-Red, then Red-Green.
    Shuhei Nakamura: Jund! Mainly Jund.
    Alessandro Portaro: Lots of Kibler Gruul plus Jund and Blue-White-Red.
    Elias Watsfeldt: Kibler's Gruul is on the rise, I hear. Then the obvious decks like Jund and Blue-White-Red; and after that, there are just too many miscellaneous decks to mention all of them.


  • Saturday, 8:05 p.m. — ...And How Did That Metagame Prediction Work Out for You?

    by Tobi Henke

  • Josh Utter-Leyton: My matchups were mostly as expected. The tournament itself didn't go as expected, obviously, but I think that had more to do with my draws.
    Shuhei Nakamura: Only played against Jund once. Sadly.
    Alessandro Portaro: Played the Red-Green mirror three times, once against Jund, and once against Blue-White-Red. So spot on!
    Elias Watsfeldt: Played against Jund, Blue-White, Blue-White-Red, Mono-Black splashing green, and Kibler Gruul. I'd say I was close.


  • Saturday, 8:19 p.m. — Interesting Decks That Didn't Get There

    by Frank Karsten

  • The letter A!t least seven wins, and at most two losses. That is what you need to earn a Day 2 berth, and it's not an easy record to achieve. Many players fell to the wayside, including some who signed up with interesting, creative decks. Let's take a look at some of the cool decks that were in attendance today. They may not be perfectly tuned yet, but they are something different, and they look fun to play, too!

    Marcin Pisula, BUG Mill
    Grand Prix Warsaw 2013, Standard

    Pisula's deck was a tip from our Polish friends over at Pisula managed to defeat Platinum pro Martin Juza in Round 4, but then lost three rounds in a row and was out of contention for Day 2. The main win condition of this deck is one that I hadn't seen in a while: milling people out with Jace, Memory Adept. Nephalia Drownyard helps as well, I must add. An interesting card choice in the deck is Gaze of Granite. Black-green-blue doesn't have access to Supreme Verdict or Bonfire of the Damned, but Gaze of Granite is a fine alternative.

    Another deck combining Black, Green, and Blue, but with a completely different game plan. This deck is a nice variant on the Bant Frog deck (which aims to play Rapid Hybridization on its own Young Wolf) but with black cards and some new Simic additions. Basically, when you put Vorel of the Hull Clade and Zameck Guildmage in the same deck, you got my attention. Both of them work quite well with the scavenge ability of Dreg Mangler. Another reason to play black is for the removal spells, which can provide food for Scavenging Ooze. Myslinski went 5-3-1 today.

    Yuuya Watanabe, Gruul Ooze
    Grand Prix Warsaw 2013, Standard

    Earlier today, I promised to bring you the decklist of Japanese Platinum level pro Yuuya Watanabe, and here it is. Although Watanabe went an unimpressive 0-3 drop, his deck looks impressive. It's basically a mix between Brian Kibler's Gruul aggro deck (notice the Ghor-Clan Rampager, Domri Rade, and Burning Earth, but the lack of Hellrider and Thundermaw Hellkite) and Raphael Levy's mono-green deck (notice the Predator Ooze, Wolfir Silverheart, and Rancor, but the lack of Elvish Archdruid and Mutavault).

    Interesting decks all around, even though none of them will return on Sunday. Be sure to check in tomorrow to learn all about of the crazy brews of players at 7-2 or better.

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