Coming Up: PT Seattle
|PT Boston '03 Champions, The Brockafellars
he Team Pro Tour is coming up, as the Circuit returns home to Seattle. Once upon a time all World Championships were held there as it is in the back yard of Renton, WA where the Wizards of the Coast offices are located. Worlds took off for the road and Seattle has only had a single Grand Prix since then. Northwest players are more than ready for another major tournament, and the Team Pro Tour is here to provide it.
For those that aren't familiar with the format, teams will build three sets of sealed decks on Friday and play two rounds with each deck. Top competitors (anyone with a record of 4-2 or better) will advance to Saturday where they will play five Team Rochester drafts. At the end of that, the top 4 teams will advance to play on Sunday.
One of the unique elements of the team Pro Tours is all the different teams that come together and the stories behind them. Let's take a look at some of the interesting teams that are qualified for this tournament and set the stage for some of the stories that are likely to unfold during the live coverage (teams listed in alphabetical order).
(3 x 1) -1 + 1 - Mike Long, Justin Schneider, Mike Krzwicki
Mike Long surprised everyone by coming out of retirement to play in U.S. Nationals. Is he itching to play more Magic, and if so will he and his teammates show up in Seattle?
Absolute Samuels – Patrick Jansen, Demir Sejdiu, Daniel Steinsdorfer
Although none of these German players are well known individually, they have done consistently well as a team. Will Absolute Samuels earn some more recognition with another solid finish this time around?
AlphaBetaUnlimited (Ryan Fuller, Chris Benafel, David Williams)
Fuller and Benafel have been off the tournament scene, but with the Pro Tour in their backyard, why not show up? David Williams recently came in second at the World Series of Poker and this event will be his first Magic appearance since. That said, he's far more likely to show up with Neil Reeves and Bob Maher for a repeat of team "Bottom Set", which just missed out on the final day at PT Boston this season. Assuming that is the team Williams shows up with, they'll surely be viewed as one of the top teams to beat.
Illuminati (Justin Gary, Zvi Mowshowitz, Alex Shvartsman)
For various reasons each of us have taken time off Magic this year. As a result, all three of us need a very strong finish to qualify for the World Championship. Zvi, who now lives in Denver, returned to New York for a week of testing, so hopefully we will be ready to earn those Pro points this weekend.
Phoenix Foundation (Dirk Baberowski, Kai Budde, Marco Blume)
The best team in the format featuring the best player in the world has never disappointed. It has been an off year for Kai (though anyone else would certainly consider the same performance highly successful) . Will he use this tournament to climb back to the top?
Stalking Tiger Hidden Gibbon (Paul Jordan, Matt Urban, Josh Ravitz)
Any team Matt Urban has been on showed up at the team events with some of the funniest, coolest team names there. Stalking Tiger Hidden Gibbon and Urban Housing are just a couple of examples. Will they show up this year, and will they entertain us with a new cool name?
Team Burkas (Nicolai Herzog, Tuomo Nieminen, Anton Jonsson)
Team Outland (Nicolai Herzog, Bjorn Jocumsen, Eivind Nitter)
Herzog is in the midst of a very impressive double-title season (so far!) and is currently leading the Player of the Year race; a strong finish in Seattle may lock in the title for him, a solid finish will keep him on top – but a poor finish combined with some of the other players in the top 5 doing well may leave him behind. The question right now is, which team will Herzog captain in Seattle?
Thaaaat's Me (Bill Stead, Charles Gindy, Chris Fennell)
Their success at Team GP: DC lands them among the favorites for this event as well.
Tool Time (Brian Lynch, Lucas Glavin, Kate Stavola)
This team of East Coast players won a qualifier at the last Pro Tour. Kate might be the only female player in the tournament. Will she be the first female player to compete on a Pro Tour Sunday?
Watch Out for Timberwatch (Tom Guevin, Pete Guevin, Paul Rietzl)
It has been a very solid year for Rietzl, who won this year's North American Challenge. He'll be looking to continue his string of successes in a team event, and thanks to such colorful characters as the Guevins it should be lots of fun to watch what unfolds.
Speaking of watching what unfolds, make sure to check out Randy Buehler's recent article about new changes in the live webcast from the event, where you'll be able to watch the final day's events unfold live. Also, don't miss the great video preview of the event in that article, which includes interviews with the defending champs (the “Brockafellars”) as well as Kai's team “Phoenix Foundation”.
Jingpeng Zhang is a regular at the Toronto PTQ scene, so he probably didn't expect to qualify for his first Pro Tour event by winning Canadian Nationals! Zhang played a Red-Blue Obliterate/March of the Machines deck to victory, taking down Murrey “The Mauler” Evans in the finals. Whereas this is the first Pro Tour appearance for Zhang, Evans was on a National team a few years ago. Lending them a hand in San Francisco will be Brainburst editor Mike Thicke, who also played an Obliterate deck.
Arguably the best performance in Standard was by 6th place finisher Mike Viner. He had to grind into the tournament via a last chance qualifier the day before, thus earning even more constructed match wins than his peers over the weekend.
1. Jingpeng Zhang (U/R March/Obliterate)
2. Murray Evans (Affinity)
3. Michael Thicke (U/R March/Obliterate)
4. David Rood (Affinity)
5. Sacha Bakht (Affinity)
6. Mike Viner (U/W Control)
7. Jason Howden (Proteus Control)
8. Felix Tse (Tooth and Nail)
New Zealand Nationals
As reported by National Champion Richard Grace:
“The New Zealand national team will star an all-veteran cast this year.
The field was predominantly control dominated, although the single deck posting the highest numbers was Ravager Affinity, with nearly 25% of the field. The little red men scarcely showed their heads, leaving the Affinity decks to run wild in a sea full of UW control and Tooth and Nail.
Richard Grace piloted his Ravager Affinity deck (which the New Zealanders have taken to calling Pocket Rockets) to a 5-0 record in the mirror match due to some under the radar tech of Relic Barrier in the sideboard, and pushed the artifact creatures through two GW Astral Slide decks to take the title for the second year running. He defeated Roger Miller in the final, who was playing GW slide, and was unfortunate to not draw a Forest until it was too late. This will be Roger's 3rd World Championships, and Roger is one of New Zealand's most respected players, as well as one of the most experienced.
|Cole Swannack, Worlds ‘03
Joining these two at the World Championships will be James White, who piloted a similar version of Ravager Affinity to a 3rd place finish (James was also running the Relic Barrier
s in the sideboard). James had tested with Grace prior to the tournament, and was largely responsible for unleashing Relic Barrier
on the tournament. He decided to run more land in place of the Tooth of Chiss-Goria
, anticipating a larger goblins field, but in a tragic piece of irony, he was beaten by Grace predominantly on the strength of a triple Arcbound Worker
/ Tooth of Chiss-Goria
start, which was too much for the Frogmite
s to push through.
The final player to gain an entry to Worlds was 14 year old Cole Swannack, who was the national champion in 2002 and will be attending his 3rd world championships in a row.
The New Zealand team is quite possibly the strongest and most experienced team to ever come out of the country, and they will be hoping for some great results, as will the rest of the country."
3rd Place – James White (Affinity)
4th Place – Cole Swannick (Tooth and Nail)
Top 8 – Brett Rogers (Burn)
Top 8 – Nico Johnston (Affinity)
Top 8 – Dion Stratford (U/W Control)
Top 8 – Paul Carson (Burn)
Notable is the burn deck played by Carson and Rogers. Nothing similar has succeeded in the current metagame elsewhere, so it's worth testing to see if it may be a tier one deck:
Congratulations to Richard and his teammates!
Reporting by Rune Horvik:
“The Norwegian Worlds team is Aleksander Dahl, Truls Stokka and Tormod Pauli, with Rickard Österberg taking 4th place. Stokka is the only player with any PT experience, having played two PTs this season (New Orleans and Kobe). Nicolai Herzog dropped at 3-4 (1-3 in the draft).”
1. Aleksander Dahl, Trondheim (U/W Control)
2. Truls Stokka, Oslo (March of the Machines)
3. Tormod Pauli, Bergen (Affinity)
4. Rickard Österberg, Oslo (U/W Control)
5. Omar Saddiq, Oslo (U/W Control)
6. Øyvind Wefald Andersen, Oslo (R/W Astral Slide)
7. Thomas F. Gundersen, Trondheim (U/R Control)
8. Tarjei Kvalø, Trondheim (U/R Obliterate/March)
Bad Play Of The Week
Courtesy of Valyn:
“I was playing in an Extended tournament this past weekend. Everyone had finished the current round except for two players facing off in their third game. Player A was playing Ravager affinity and Player B was playing a Red/Green control deck. Player A has 10 life and no hand; on the board he has a Welding Jar
, an Ornithopter
, 4 artifact lands, and two Ravagers at 8/8 and 6/6. Player B has 7 life, two cards in hand, plenty of land, and two small ground creatures.
Player A announces that he is sacrificing his 8/8 Ravager to put the counters on his Ornithopter. Player B responds by Shocking the Ornithopter. Player A responds by sacrificing his 6/6 Ravager, targeting his Ornithopter. Player B responds by using Chain of Plasma on the Ornithopter. Player A lets his Ornithopter die. Player B comes back and smacks player A in two turns for the win. Everyone in the tournament lets out an exasperated sigh and points at the unused Welding Jar sitting off to the side.”
Got some Magic news, a Play of the Week or anything else you feel belongs in this column? Please use the link below to drop me an e-mail.