"The TOGIT Connection" (named after the New Jersey store The Only Game in Town) consisted of members Osyp Lebedowicz (from that store) and team CMU members Mike Turian and US National Champion Eugene Harvey. I sat down with them between the deck registering and deck building periods, to observe the process they used to build their decks.
B(en): So without seeing the cards, what colors do you guys hope to be playing.
M(ike): All three-color decks.
E(ugene): We're going to split blue.
O(syp): I want red/white.
MT: We want decks with good matchups.
EH: Like that time you played Barbarian Outcast on turn two in your red/green deck cause you drew your one Swamp.
MT: (laughs) What was that, turn one Forest, Shadowblood Egg, turn two Swamp, crack the Egg, Outcast.
At this point the decks were handed to the players and they were told that they had ten minutes to check over the lists to see if any cards were misregistered, after which point they had one hour to construct their decks.
BB: So it's team TOGIT, correct?
EH: It's pronounced Tah-git, not Tow-git.
OL: I need to go to the bathroom. I can't be here for deck construction.
EH: He's really superstitious about that.
OL: Last year we were in a qualifier and we got the best decks ever when I went to the bathroom, so I'm never here for when we get our cards. But we lost then anyhow. It was the worst qualifing season ever for me.
BB: How many byes does your team have?
Mike seperated all the cards by set and color, while Eugene compared the tally of physical cards to those on the deck lists. A Guided Stike had been left off the registration sheet, but this was quickly corrected by a judge.
BB: So what are your initial impressions about your card pool?
MT: The green is insane.
OL: And we've got two Zealots.
EH: It's ok, it doesn't look that great. (looks through black) We've got a Mutilate. (continues looking) But no Butcher.
MT: We'll Mutilate theirs! Our OD blue is really good, but the red is sorta crappy.
BB: So how are you guys sorting these cards now?
MT: We're taking out the crap.
After removing a good quantity of cards, the three pro players laid out three decks in front of themselves, arranged by casting cost. Eugene took the blue cards, Osyp the black, and Mike the green.
OL: Shotgun on the black deck. Should I go mono black?
EH: Why not?
OL: Do we want to split the black? (Looks over to Eugene's cards) Oh my god, Scalpelexis? We got this guy?
EH: He wins in three turns. (Tosses Cephalid Constable out of his deck) No Ghostly Wings, and no way to get him through.
OL: Just playing mono-black scares me. Maybe if i had Coffers and Butchers, but right now I can't deal with a Rabid Elephant.
The team began adding a second color to the decks. Osyp added red, while Eugene added white and Mike stared at his mono-green.
EH: We don't want black/green. They both can't get to threshold.
OL: (takes out Earsplitting Rats, Zombify, Zombie Assassin, and Infected Vermin. Adds in Barbarian Lunatic, Barbarian Bully, Chainflinger, Petravark, Arcane Teachings, and Temporary Insanity). Now I've got twenty-six cards.
EH: We should split the blue into U/W, U/G and then have B/R.
MT: Fill the green with stupid cantrips like Obsessive Search and Peek, and give the Looter to white. Also, the green could splash red or white because of the Harvester Druids and sac lands.
EH: I don't think we'll need to do that with these cards.
OL: I still have no way to deal with a Butcher. I should play with Thermal Blast. And we have no blue bounce or flyers for the green deck.
EH: Should I main deck Aura Graft?
MT: Yes, it's really good. Do you have any funny Chamber combos?
EH: No, not really (takes Chamber of Manipulation out of deck).
MT: I should have the Scriveners. With the (Were)bear and Druids, I can get mana flooded, and the Scriveners help give me something to do with my mana late game. (Grabs Cephalid Looter from the U/W deck and uses it to replace a Refresh in his deck).
OL: The G/U deck isn't good enough, it's got no tricks. Looking at it, I don't even know what kind of draw you hope to get with it.
MT: Turn one Chatter, turn two Mongrel, Rootwalla, turn four Roar (laughs).
Seeing that their blue/green deck wasn't quite up to snuff, they transformed the deck into green/red, and moved the blue cards into the black deck, making that one black/blue.
OL: I think I want to run Scrivener in this deck. I've got Demise and two Afflicts.
MT: I might play the Lancer, it's a threshold enabler.
OL: I'm not sure I can deal with red/green though.
MT: It's not that popular anymore. A lot of players are shying away from it and playing blue/green and red/black.
OL: Maybe I should play the Zealots in this deck, and the Auramancers wouldn't be bad for my Patriarch's Desire.
MT: I like it better the other way (with the blue). Scrivener, (Wormfang) Crab and Scalpelexis are in.
EH: I'll play the U/B deck to get used to it.
OL: I'll play U/W.
MT: Should I play Thermal Blast?
EH: Yes! You've got no removal in your deck.
MT: I like it that way. It says something about my deck. (Takes out Volcanic Spray for Thermal Blast) I think I'll play sixteen lands in this deck, with two Druids, the bear and the Rites (of Spring).
OL: I need one more card for this deck (adds Scrivener). How about him?
MT: (Takes out Scrivener and slams down Soulcatcher). You're playing Soulcatcher over Scrivener in blue/white. It fills out your curve a lot better. Plus it's demoralizing. They kill your other flyers, and then you point to your Soulcatcher and say "it gets a counter now". Then you trade it for their (Aven) Windreader later on in the game.
OL: And if I put an Unquestioned Authority on it, it turns into a Beloved Chaplain with flying.
Osyp, Eugene and Mike began divvying up the remaining cards for their sideboard. Mike took every green and red card.
EH: I have Rancid Earth to deal with Squirrel Nest.
OL: Then I'm taking the Aura Graft.
MT: (Tosses Ravaged Highlands to Osyp) I want you to main deck this. (Laughs) Should I run that or the green sac land?
OL: You need mountains for your Anger.
MT: I'll play the green sac land then. Six Mountains, Eight Forests, filter land, and the sac land?
EH: Five mountains?
MT: Six, isn't it?
EH: How many lands are you playing?
OL: He's playing sixteen.
EH: Ok, then six.
MT: I'm glad that's decided.
OL: (Pulls out the Traumatize) Which one of our decks is most vulnerable to Battle of Wits (laughter).
MT: Wait, you're playing Soulcatcher over (Trained) Pronghorn?
OL: I like Soulcatcher. Plus you just spent the past 30 minutes selling him to me, and I'm excited to be playing it!
MT: But the Pronghorn helps you get to threshold.
OL: So does Soulcatcher when it gets Firebolted. (laughter)
MT: But the Longhorn powers your (Circular) Logic and gets you to threshold.
OL: Great, so I can drop turn two Pronghorn, turn four Zealot, pitch my hand and attack for three. Great.
MT: Maybe you should be playing Soulcatcher's Aerie.
EH: Yeah, in my deck so they can cast Battle Screech and then I could Mutilate and put four counters on it.
OL: Or you could Upheaval, and then cast Suntail Hawk, double Suntail Hawk flash back the Screech.
MT: In extended you could play Kangree, Gaea's Cradle, Battle Screech!
BB: Is this tech for worlds?
OL: Either that or Psychatog. Then I could kill you turn four with a Gush.
MT: Or Intuition for three AK's (Accumulated Knowledge).
The three players finished up registering their decks.
OL: (to Eugene) Next deck, you're getting to play with multiple Accelerates.
MT: And you're getting no creatures! You have to Accelerate your opponent's creatures.
OL: And you'll have multiple Acceptable Losses.
EH: (Laughing) With that deck I'll have a lot of acceptable losses all right.
BB: So is that your strategy for the second deckbuilding session, to have two amazing decks and one bad one?
EH: We could do that, but I'm not sure we'd want to.
MT: We're just having fun making fun of Eugene.
BB: Well thank you guys for your time, and good luck.
GP New Jersey 2002 First Sealed Deck
Eugene Harvest, The TOGIT Connection "A" Seat
GP New Jersey First Sealed Deck
Mike Turian, The TOGIT Connection "B" Seat
GP New Jersey First Sealed Deck
Osyp Lebedowicz, The TOGIT Connection "C" Seat