These players are looking for two wins to make top 8, some of them have the decks to do it; others do not. It was a pro-heavy table, split between three Germans, three French and two Swedes. In seat order: Mikael Polgary, Raphael Levy, Antoine Ruel, Simon Carlsson, Dominik Hothow, Amiel Tenenbaum, Daniel Zink and, the infamous, Kai Budde.
Ruel’s first booster offered him the choice between Electrostatic Bolt and Mindslaver, he chose Bolt, probably correct but a close call nonetheless. Tenenbaum was put in a similar situation several boosters later; he was short on men in a burgeoning RG deck and chose Soul Foundry over Bolt. I’m reasonably certain the Bolt is the better of the two cards, but some people disagree.
In the second set of boosters, Hothow’s WU deck was coming along nicely when he opened a Glissa Sunseeker. His only other options were an Annul or a Red splash of a Bolt, he hated. Two boosters later and all hell broke loose. Antoine opened the following: Bonesplitter, Shatter, Betrayal of the Flesh, Somber Hoverguard and other good but not ‘that’ good cards. He was BRU already, with Levy, settled into WR, taking the next card. Ruel took the Shatter, Raphael was so confused he mispicked an Iron Myr, passing the Betrayal to Kai’s RB monstrosity, leaving a jubilant Zink to scrape up the Bonesplitter fifth!
Levy’s last booster gave him the choice of Bonesplitter, Skyhunter Patrol, Lightning Greaves and Soul Foundry. He was already low on creatures and picked the Patrol. Ruel eyed up the pack, choosing Bonesplitter over Barter in Blood. Another risky decision, pros I have asked are still split in their opinions. Carlsson’s by now amazing RG deck gave him Glissa (a sense of justice after ‘his’ earlier one was hated) but left Kai with the choice between his first Terror and a second Shrapnel Blast, he took the former, and though I assume he was correct, a deck with two Blasts in it is very scary.
There was relatively little hate drafting, the Glissa incident aside, with only Amiel pinching a few cards from those around him (he did end up playing them but I am not certain that was his intention at the time). Everyone settled into their colors nicely after a few packs but suddenly a plethora of Spikeshot Goblins had been opened and players were dipping into Red everywhere. Levy, Ruel and Carlsson were sat next to each other, Levy a player downstream from Kai, all taking Red. Ruel only splashed it, Levy looked squashed and Carlsson somehow managed to ignore it by picking up Green cards. Ah well.
Kai’s RB deck looks to be one of the favorites. His removal consists of Consume Spirit, Grab the Reins, Spikeshot Goblin, Shrapnel Blast, Betrayal, Shatter, Detonate, Barter, Terror, Bolt and an Icy Manipulator; all of that is fueled by a Serum Tank. His creatures are a little light but with up to five Dross Prowlers to choose from I am sure he will be fine. Another GP top 8 on the way?
Carlsson managed to pick up a phenomenal RG deck. His bombs include Glissa, Mindslaver, Loxodon Warhammer, and Spikeshot Goblin. Although, he is a little removal light, fielding only two Bolts and a Granite Shard, he has a Fireshrieker, a Lightning Greaves, a Battle Growth and a Predator Strike to boost his considerable huge creatures. Can he get in Kai’s way?
Zink’s WU deck is solid. His four rares, two Leonin Abunas, a Luminguard Auger and the awesome Solar Tide, can do nothing but help. Two pieces of equipment for his Skyhunter Cub and Leonin Den-Guard cannot hurt. A solid deck with a Solar Tide. One of the best decks on the table.
Ruel has a solid BRU deck with evasion in the form of three Nim Shriekers and a Somber Hoverguard. He has a Bonesplitter and a Nightmare Lash to pump his men with and more cards to kill men: Terror, Bolt, Wail of the Nim, Consume Spirit, Irradiate and two Shatter. Still in with a shot.
Polgary has a good UGr deck. Three Annuls, an Aether and a Pyrite Spellbomb, a Shrapnel Blast, a Regress, two Battlegrowth and two Domineer fulfill the trickery requirements whilst a solid creature base including two Hoverguards, a Fangren Hunter, some Trolls of Tel-Jilad and a Pentavus. Can the unknown Swede continue to beat the established pros?
Hothow has a Wg deck with a shaky creature base. His Green splash is for a single Glissa. He has some good tricks: the only Blinding Beam, an Arrest, an Altar's Light, a Soul Foundry and a Serum Tank. However, he has very few men and that is going to be his demise. I do not think he can beat Kai’s deck.
Levy has a reasonable WR deck, consistent but without anything that makes you want to take a second look. His removal is a little light – the ‘oh-so-unpredictable’ Soul Nova, an Arrest, two Pyrite Spellbombs and a Sculpting Steel (kind of removal…). He told me earlier that the only thing he wants to do is Steel his Sun Droplet!
Tenenbaum is the draft’s victim. He has a Gx deck with a variety of splashes; Red for Bolt, Goblin Replica and Spellbomb, and Black for Betrayal of the Flesh. He has a Deconstruct and a Creeping Mold but the problem with his deck is that it only has eleven men. Maybe his Soul Foundry will not get destroyed. He has three Cloud Posts though, and they are cool! Maybe he will play them…