Did the JSS outthink the big boys at Magic Weekend? BDM explores.

The Wisdom of Youth

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The Magic Weekend is over and everyone is dissecting the U.S. Nationals decklists. Mostly the talk has centered around the impact of Solar Flare, and to a lesser extent Tron, on the Standard metagame in the coming weeks. For many players – myself included – who do not play a ton of Constructed Magic Online, Solar Flare came as something of a surprise. A couple of players who were not surprised were the finalists in the JSS Championships Arthur Stewart and Blaine Hatab.

Both players selected their decks specifically because of the buzz surrounding Solar Flare and its continuing success in premier events online. Blaine audibled from a black-white beatdown deck to his streamlined Heartbeat combo deck only a week before the tournament. Heartbeat's dominating matchup against Solar Flare was his primary reason for making the call.

Arthur Stewart pocketed a large scholarship check last weekend.

JSS Champion Arthur Stewart played Magnivore for the same reasons – although he did not like the deck's matchup with the blue-white French Weenie decks from that country's National Championships. I was walking around the JSS area for the final few rounds for my JSS feature and watched Arthur square off with Gavin Verhey in the penultimate round of Swiss. Gavin was playing a modified version of the French Nationals winning deck and Arthur all but conceded the match before playing. Recalling Tomohiro Kaji's words prior to their Finals matchup in Charleston, Arthur declared that he would need a miracle to win.

The matchup turned out to not only be better than he expected but I would venture to say a good one for the Vore deck. Arthur not only won his match with Gavin, insuring that he could draw into the Top 8, but he emerged victorious in a similar matchup during the semifinals.

“I tested the Vore deck all day Wednesday on MTGO 8-man's. My friend on MTGO was having a lot of success with the deck and I just modified his list,” Arthur explained. “It had good matchups against Tron and Solar Flare and really no bad matchups. Even the French Weenie deck was much easier to beat then I expected.”

Arthur was the only player from the bracketed rounds of the Championship to have appeared in the Top 8 last year as well. When the Top 8 pairings were posted he briefly worried that he was going to fall short.

“I was pretty sure I would go all the way and all my friends told me I was going to win,” he recalled and yet… “I lost to my quarterfinals opponent in the Swiss with him getting back-to-back rips to win. I was a little worried.”

Arthur is a rabid Magic Online player and familiar with the rapidly shifting metagame within that digital landscape – one that has already shifted based on the result from this past weekend. Arthur has already abandoned the Magnivore in favor of a newer list.

“I've been online about two years and I play once a week usually. I'm definitely very good at Constructed and don't play Limited that much. It really depends on the metagame of the event but right now I have been having success online with black-white aggro with Shining Shoals and Descendant of Kiyomaro.”

“I'm planning to go to Grand Prix and Pro Tours if school doesn't conflict,” said Stewart, who is no longer JSS eligible. He has been making plans to attend Grand Prix-Phoenix to see if he has what it takes to play on a higher level. “I think the competition will be tough and there will be better players but nothing I can't handle.”

Players such as Gadiel Szleifer, Kyle Goodman, and Jeff Garza have all made easy transitions from Junior Super Series to the Pro ranks. We'll find out if Stewart has what it takes to follow in their footsteps in the coming months. Last year's JSS finalist Jason Rosselini, a friend of Stewart's, played in Nationals this year and, despite a mediocre Limited performance, ended up in 14th place. Rosselini took some time to talk to me about his attempt to launch his post-JSS career.

“I played in an Extended PTQ for Honolulu and made the Top 8 with Tooth and Nail. I played in another Extended PTQ for Honolulu and made Top 16 – I needed one more win to Top 8 that one,” recalled Rosselini. “I played in my Regionals and went 6-0-2 getting my only draw in Round 5 to Paul Cheon (the eventual National Champion.) and the other was a draw in to Top 8. Unfortunately, I lost the first round to land flood and took fifth place. I played in a sealed PTQ for Prague and went 5-1-1 to Top 8 that. Then I went on to win out in the Top 8 and qualified for Prague. I could not attend the PT because of school but was very happy to say that I made the Pro Tour for the first time.”

Despite the loss in the quarterfinals of his Regionals, Rosselini managed to qualify for Nats on the basis of his rating. He was 78th overall, and had some hope that his Top 16 finish at Nats would elevate his rating enough to qualify him for another Championship. His only concern was his Limited performance.

“I played Firemane Angel and went 5-1-1 in Constructed,” he continued. “My only loss was Round 1 to Benjamin Lundquist, the national finalist. I did pretty badly in Limited. I liked both of my decks but the RGD draft did not go my way. I went 4-3 overall for Limited. Day One I went 1-3 in RGD and Day Two I went 3-0 with Coldsnap. I hope to Q for Worlds off of rating and play in (Paris) this year.”

Someone posted in the forums of last week's column that Magic Weekend looked like a great big Magic Convention, which was pretty much spot-on. In addition to the two centerpiece tournaments, there were scads of side events, artist signings, unique Magic experiences like the Game of the Year, and contests such as Create Your Own Magic.

Ross strikes an appropriate pose for this column.
Create Your Own Magic entrants made submissions in up to four different categories that included game design, fantasy art, fiction, and online coverage. One submission stood up in the last category but exceeded the word count in the submission guidelines – exceeded it by seven or eight thousand words. Ross Pohler took it upon himself to attend a JSS qualifier in Brooklyn and covered the entire event from top to bottom. He created a submission that looked exactly like our own online coverage – right down to the HTML for the brackets and inset card art and photos.

“Basically I was already qualified for the JSS Championship,” Ross explained. “I decided to attend the (qualifier) and select a match to cover each round. I decided to write down all their plays, what happened, and what they said. When I got home I wrote a big article and used the formatting from I even cut and pasted to get the formatting right. I even brought a camera and in mid-game I would just take out my camera and snap pictures.”

Click here to download his submission.


Contest of the Year
Richard Garfield's socks: Tony Petrocillo
Art: Robert Mangum
4x Ice Age Block: David Joshua Pruitt

Create Your Own Magic!

Game Design
1. Jed Schmidt
2. Dylan Fay
3. Justin McDonald

1. Dylan Fay
2. Justin McDonald
3. Tom Emmons

1. Danielle Mansur
2. John Garman
3. Daniel Garman

Online Writing
1. Anthony Izzo
2. Matt Nickolai
3. Justin McDonald

Unfortunately for Ross, the rules are the rules and his coverage from the event was not eligible for any prize in the contest. The entry was way too cool to go unrewarded though, and we gave him a crack at doing some coverage during the quarterfinals of the JSS Championships.

“I got into learning about the Pro Tour about a year ago. It is fun to read, it's a good way to find out what happened, and it has always been interesting to me,” Ross said when asked about why he was drawn to the reporting aspect of the game. He enjoys reading about the more colorful pros but one in particular stands out for him. “Mostly Gerard Fabiano because he has his own fan club and everything – that is kind of funny.”

Ross played in the JSS Championship but had a quick "no comment" at the ready when asked about his performance. The New Jersey-based player seemed much more interested in what was going on in the Feature Match area of Nationals, where he was seen craning his neck for a better vantage with his trusty notebook in hand. I asked him what he looks for when covering a match:

“A lot of what interests me in a game of Magic is when players have to guess what is in their opponents' hand and think about whether or not they want to do anything – or fib or know if their opponent is fibbing. There is also the point where the players start fooling around that is interesting. Basically you can look at the game statistically with what each player played when, and that can be very interesting, but if you get into what is going on in the player's head – that is really interesting.

“Next year I will be in journalism – that is going to be a big start for me,” Ross concluded hoping that he could parlay that into a career in the future. “That seems like it would be good for me. Anything journalism-related and Magic in particular would be very fine.”

Hall of Fame: One Man's Ballot

Like we did during last year's Hall of Fame debate, we'll be publishing complete ballots and analysis from committee members throughout the month of August. The first such ballot submitted came from Randy Buehler, the voice of the Pro Tour (one of many roles he's assumed in the game, including current director of Magic R&D). Check it out and see which five players he believes should be inducted at Worlds. If other Selection Committee or Player Committee members wish to provide analysis and explanation of their votes for publication, click here.

Friday Night Magic: August

Finish in the top two at Friday Night Magic in August and you'll walk away with this shiny prize. You'd be mad not to go play…

And while we're on the topic of Friday Night Magic, here's a big thanks to all the stores participating in the latest Super Friday Night Magic, which took place at Magic Weekend.

Ed WallsThe Deep Comics & Games2312 S. Memorial Pkwy Unit AHuntsvilleAL35801256-883-7327Email
Dawn FischerBorderland Relics7730-B Old Shell RoadMobileAL36608251-634-0222Email
Ed NehringTBS Comics - Ft Walton BeachFt Walton BeachFL32548(850) 244-5441Email
G. Devin BarberWar Dogs Game Center2777 University Blvd W #32JacksonvilleFL32217904-399-1975Email
Gladys DollarJJ's Comics & Cards2401 Dawson Rd #WAlbanyGA31707(229) 883-0478Email
Rudy EdwardsPlayer One Games281 South Main Street 103-BAlpharettaGA30004(770) 772-4500Email
John DolesGrand Slam Sportscards & Collectibles191 Alps RdAthensGA30606(706) 613-6698Email
Gil KannNorthlake Stamp and Coin4800 Briarcliff Rd #2040AtlantaGA30345(770) 938-7842Email
Janice WilliamsAnime Alley1824 Wylds Rd #A3AugustaGA30909706-737-5764Email
Greg GowensQuest Comic Shop106-B Rejen DriveCarrolltonGA30117-4269(770) 832-0172Email
Paula GoldenGamer's Getaway5923 Stewart ParkwayDouglasvilleGA30135(770) 577-5399Email
Pate StevensThe Gaming Pit1625 Pleasant Hill Rd #120DuluthGA30096(770) 921-5511Email
Deke YoungThe War Room5950 State Bridge Road Suite 130 DuluthGA30097-6438(770) 982-9438Email
Jonathan ShumanKarma Games20 Lee Street, Jefferson Center, Suite 6 & 7JeffersonGA30549(706) 367-1117Email
Keith BrownGalactic Comics & Games25 Siebald StStatesboroGA30458(912) 489-3123Email
Mike McDanielHeroes and Villains1245 Russell ParkwayWarner RobinsGA31088(478) 322-0004Email
David ThompsonThe Last Castle1718 A Watson BlvdWarnerRobinsGA31093(478) 923-3724Email
Shawn WestermanPlan B Collectibles3100 Todds Rd #120LexingtonKY40517(859) 263-4413Email
Duane AllenCoolector's Mall401 E 18th StOwensboroKY42303(270) 314-1611Email
Jennifer LawrenceThe Lotus Guardian1645 A Triplett StOwensboroKY42303(270) 926-6765Email
Keith SimpsonWarlords Unlimited211 Geri Lane #DRichmondKY40475(859) 625-1212Email
Scott FrancisUnderground Games8316 Pineville-Mathews Rd #903CharlotteNC28226(704) 543-0054Email
Michael ThompsonPlanet Comics2704 North Main StAndersonSC29621(864) 261-3578Email
Vern BlackDueling Ground4959 Socastee Blvd Macklen PlazaMyrtle BeachSC29588(843) 293-1406Email
Daniel McAbeeThe Tangled Web414 W Black Stock RdSpartanburgSC29301(864) 574-1713Email
Wayne BakerMr. Wayne's2516 Volunteer ParkwayBristolTN37620(423) 764-1720Email
Larry GuffeyDragon Caves6787 Lee Highway ChattanoogaTN37421(423) 499-4443Email
Jeff HowellCollector's Connection1663 Hwy 51 By PassDyersburgTN38024(731) 285-6262Email
Chan TongCollector's Item581-F Old Hickory BlvdJacksonTN38305(731) 660-4899Email
Dellis HensleyEntertainment Overload1190 Main StreetSneedvilleTN37869(423) 733-1113Email

Grand Prix-Malmo DQ Fallout

If you read the coverage from Grand Prix-Malmo, you are aware that Olivier Ruel was disqualified from that tournament. The matter has been investigated by the DCI and the Head Judge's disqualification for Unsporting Conduct has been followed up with a six-month suspension for Olivier. The cost to Ruel from this suspension will be significant. When you consider his appearance fees for expected attendance at Pro Tours and Grand Prix (not even counting potential winnings), Olivier is out close to $6,000. He ends the season with 38 points in the Player of the Year race, locking his Pro Players Club status at Level 4 to start next season (when his suspension expires). Attending just one more Pro Tour this season would have ensured him Level 5, which includes higher appearance fees and airfare to all Pro Tours and Worlds. He has also forfeited his position on this year's Pro Tour Hall of Fame Selection Committee due to his suspension (as stated in the Hall of Fame rules), and he will no longer be writing the Ask the Pro column on this site. A search for a new Ask the Pro writer has begun.

Firestarter: Open Topic

I'm sure you will find something to post about… Talk amongst yourselves in the forums.

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