here are many events going on during Magic Weekend Paris. The Pro Tour is the largest event of its kind with nearly 500 players signed up for the inaugural PT of the 2011 season. The Grand Prix taking place here on Saturday is likely to set a record for pairs of players taking part in a card game tournament with attendance expectations hovering just around the 2700 - 2800 mark.
Then there is the Player of the Year showdown—the Unfinished Business from the 2010 season between Brad Nelson and World Champion Guillaume Matignon. It will be the smallest tournament ever held, with only two players in the contest and the title of Player of the Year on the line. The match has taken on the feel of a heavyweight bout. You can even watch the match on Pay per View when we webcast in on Saturday morning for the low, low price of you getting up at some unholy hour to watch it.
Guillaume Matignon and Brad Neslon
In keeping with the boxing atmosphere for the event we decided to do a tale of the tape and see how the two players matched up. While we didn't think you would be interested in their height or their reach (for the record Brad had only one creature with reach in his deck when I interviewed him but wanted one more, while Guillaume had three) we did get some pretty interesting answers to some other questions. With the aid of Pro Tour Statistician Richard Hagon we pulled up their event-by-event records and their head-to-head records from the 2010 season.
It should be pointed out that other than a trophy there is no other physical reward for winning the title of Player of the Year. The players have both reached the highest echelon of the Player's Club and will receive the same generous benefits throughout the year. You could easily imagine them as a pair of jaded Magic veterans going through the motions for the benefit of the audience but that is far from the truth. Both players have invited friends and family to be in their cheering sections on Saturday. It will be the first time that either players' parents will have come to see them play at the Pro Tour and I think that speaks to the meaning of winning the title that goes beyond the mere possession of the PoY trophy.
Pro Tour Amsterdam Round Four (Extended): Brad
Pro Tour San Juan Round Fourteen (Block Constructed): ID
Pro Tour San Juan Quarterfinals (Draft): Guillaume
Brad: Eye of the Tiger
Guillaume: The obvious one, the Rocky one I guess. Baa-baba-baa-ba-ba-ba-baaah (baaaaaaah baah ba ba baba ba!)
Do do dooooo
Do do dooooo
Do do dooooo
Do do dooooo
Ba ba baah ba bah baaaa
Baba bah ba bah ba bah bah baaaaaaaaaaAAAAAH
Guillaume: The Unstoppable. I like this.
Choose a side:
How many years playing?
Brad: 7 or 8.
Guillaume: 16 or 17.
You have to pick four other Magic players to team with you to play for
the fate of the world a la The Player of Games against an alien empire.
Who do you choose?
Brad: Do I have to be on this squad? Paulo (Vitor Damo Da Rosa), Luis (Scott-Vargas), (Brian) Kibler, and Kenji (Tsumura) -- as long as we get to prep him.
Guillaume: Is Brad the alien? Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Yuuya Watanabe, Oliver Ruel, and Kazuya Mitamura. They are people I like too.
Brad: Gideon Jura. He wins so many games that other planeswalkers could never win. He wins games that Jace could never win. He is just so powerful and now he gets to pick up swords. Unreal.
Constructed or Limited?
Brad: Limited because I don't lose at Pro Tours in Limited. I 6-0'd like three of them.
Guillaume: Limited because I hate to test Constructed, which can be a problem.
Brad: Disembowelment. I am gruesome. I don't want to be gracious. I want him to feel it.
Guillaume: Pretty much like in Mortal Kombat where you freeze the guy and then ... ping! (Makes a gesture as if he was shattering his opponent with a flick of his finger.)
A little trash talk?
Brad: Before this weekend everyone saw the Player of the Year race as a tie. After this weekend they won't.
Guillaume: I never trash talk. Brad doesn't trash talk. He doesn't. I am sure he doesn't. He would never ...
How much time did you spend play testing for this weekend?
Brad: Two weeks straight. Wake up, go to sleep and in between that—just play Magic. I have even playtested super sealed.
Guillaume: If you count being in the same room as great Magic players as playtesting then it was 24, 24, 24 for ten days. We drafted a lot and we kind of found our deck a little late so we did not play test that as much. I made one super sealed and I won against my opponent and it was strange.
Favorite player of all time?
Brad: Kenji. He was at the height of his game and I was a lowly Magic Online player and he was giving me his decks the weekend of the Grand Prix that I had a Pro Tour Qualifier. So on Thursday he was sending me the deck list he was winning Grand Prix with later that weekend. I was a barn of Kenji's while he was at the height of his game and he took me under his wing. He says the tables have turned now but he will always be my favorite player of all time.
Guillaume: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. He is the most impressive for me.
Brad: No one else probably even likes it but I love it—Eulogy. It is one of Zooey Deschanel's first movies and it's got Ray Romano in it. Their grandfather dies and they are the most dysfunctional family on the planet. As the weekend goes on they find out that the dad has like three different families and he was not a good father at all. It is a really good movie—really funny.
Guillaume: Pulp Fiction. I just like it.
Favorite Music Artist?
Brad: I will go with the Shins. Their lyrics are great and they are
good musicians. Also, I like peaceful music.
Guillaume: George Brassens. You have to be French to appreciate it. It is quite old by the way.
Brad: Bigger than any hat I have ever found.
Guillaume: I don't know. I have never worn a hat in my life.
Favorite Sports team?
Brad: I don't really like sports that I can't influence. Maybe if I could ever get on the U.S. National team...
Guillaume: It is a football team—soccer. Girondin Bordeaux—my hometown.
Favorite deck of all time?
Brad: I would probably say Extended Tezzerator from two years ago that I Q'd with. I loved playing with that deck—I played it all the time.
Guillaume: The one I won the French National Championship with—Angel Blink with Avalanche Riders. It was so fun to play.
Playtest team for this event?
Brad: Luis, Paulo, Kibler, Conley, Josh, Ochoa, and I all stayed at Gabe Walls' house. Gabe may not be someone a lot of people know a lot about but he has more knowledge about this game than most people I have ever met. He knows the ropes and knows how to make a good American team. Spending a week with him is worth more than I could pay. He is a pool of knowledge. He tried to get here but he had to work. Every time I have worked with him it has been great.
Guillaume: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Antoine Ruel, Patrick Chapin, Michael Jacob, Bastien Perez, Florent Lucas, Pierre Canali, Rafael Levy, and Gabriel Nassif among others. Everyone came to my house. I was the only one with a place big enough to house 12 people.
Brad: My brother. But if it is not blood, I would say Tom Ross.
Guillaume: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. It is very easy to answer that one.
Favorite Card of all time?
Brad: I am going to go with a card from the first deck I ever built on my own. It is Mist of Stagnation. It is a crap card from Torment. It is Stasis except that you get to untap cards equal to the number of cards in your graveyard. It was the first deck I ever invented on my own—Mist of Stagnation and Withered Wretch. We would play eight-player games and I wouldn't do anything until I locked everyone out and attacked them for 2 with my Withered Wretches. It was the first time I ever innovated anything and I have net-decked ever since. I grabbed Green-Blue Madness and went to tournaments.
Guillaume: Quirion Ranger. It was from the first real competitive deck I ever played, Five-Color Green. That was back in 1996 I guess at my first