he message has been received loud and clear. The bulk of tournament Magic players concur with the bannings that go into effect for Extended in a few short weeks. After a thoroughly degenerate tournament at Pro Tour New Orleans the DCI stepped in and dramatically altered the environment with one of the most extensive banning announcements in memory. They go into effect on January 1st—right in the middle of the Extended PTQ season. PTQ attendance has been down across the country and it assumed that players are waiting for the new format before dipping their toes into shark filled waters.
The tone for the weekend was established when you only needed to be in the upper 25 percent of the field to make the Top 8 of Thursday’s PTQ for Kobe. I’ll save you the trouble of doing the math—that’s only thirty-two players. Each of the following day’s four Grand Prix Trials had better attendance but barely. If you put them all together they approached the numbers you would normally see at a Trial the night before the Grand Prix.
After a year of big numbers for Grand Prix all over the world it was not looking good for the turnout today. Numbers were pessimistically pegged in the 300 to 350 range but even the pessimists were surprised when the numbers came in lower than any GP in recent memory at only 273 players. There are many of the old familiar faces in attendance. Your Move Games is well represented with Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys, Alex Shvartsman, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Rob Dougherty all waiting to get things started in round four. CMU/TOGIT is also out in force (although Mike Turian is notably absent) with Osyp Lebedowicz, Josh Ravitz, Eugene Harvey, Gerard Fabiano, and Antonino DeRosa.
One of the stories to follow this weekend is the possibility of a new team forming between a splinter of the CMU crowd led by Antonino, YMG castoff Gabe Walls and Brian Kibler. Antonino and Walls are playing a deck they collaborated on so there may be some credence to the rumor. Former Sideboard honcho Thomas Pannell is also playing the deck today—is he going to be joining the new team as well?
Stay tuned throughout the day. We will be bringing you feature matches all afternoon starting with round three. In the meanwhile keep an eye out for decklists from the PTQ and Trials leading up to the event and a look at some of the more unusual decks that performed well.