The semifinals of Grand Prix - Pittsburgh featured a matchup between the grizzled veterans of Northern Lights #5 (Mike Long, Mike Krzywicki, and Justin Schneider) vs. the new blood Prodigy (Manny Orellana, Charles Gindy, and Jamie Duguid).
Gindy opened the first back and the draft began.
Onslaught Pack 1
There was a moment when the first pack was laid out on the table where everyone stared at the cards and tried to figure out what was wrong. There was a Legions card lurking among the 14 Onslaught picks. Lightning Rift and Nantuko Husk were swept away and replaced with a new pack.
It was pointed out to me that Jamie Duguid is "The Beast Guy". Apparently, he has played beasts in every draft/sealed deck over the weekend. It was with great reluctance that he agreed on Gindy's first pick Mauler. Schneider was not ambivalent and swiftly took the Elvish Warrior without so much as a pang of regret over the Stag beetle—which seemed to suit Duguid fine.
Onslaught Pack 2
Onslaught Pack 3
There was much hand gesturing and eye bulging from Northern Lights #5 as they tried to communicate their valuations of Mobilization vs. Gustcloak Harrier. Krzywicki got the final say and chose the enchantment to his teammates consternation. Justin was shaping up for a tribal war of elves vs. beasts and when the picks swung back around after the wheel he animatedly protected the Broodhatch Nantuko that would be excellent in the match-up.
Onslaught Pack 4
Long's team is one of the few teams I have seen this weekend that is comfortable with the U/B archetype. Long dipped his toe into those familiar waters and picked up a powerful answer to Sparksmith. Similarly, Duguid also moved into black for to deal with Schneider's growing swarm of elves in the form of Crown of Suspicion.
Onslaught Pack 5
Players sawed at their wrists with sides of their cards when this meager pack was opened. The picks the first way around looked more like what you would expect to see on the way back.
Onslaught Pack 6
This was one of the more contested packs for Northern Lights. Justin rolled his eyes and glowered at Long as he d-drafted the Wall that he felt Long should have taken over the more fragile Mistform Dreamer. Long remained calm and indicated that he understood the upsides and downsides of both cards and made the choice deliberately.
Legions Pack 1
Legions Pack 2
When Long opened the pack he was disappointed that there was no pick for him. He dramatically slammed down the Timberwatch while he was laying out the pack to get the attention of a distracted Schneider. Justin snapped to attention and when he saw that was nothing in the pack for Long indicated that he should cut off the Needleshot that would lumber around the table to Duguid otherwise.
Legions Pack 3
Legions Pack 4
Northern Lights was visibly disappointed with the quality of the cards as this was the last time they would have had a shot at a Timberwatch barring unforeseen circumstances.
Legions Pack 5
Legions Pack 6
Gindy had been calling the shots to this point in the draft without any guff from his wingmen but when Duguid wanted to take Vorine over Throwback he put his foot down and insisted. When Schneider took the Vorine Gindy seemed to realize he may have made a mistake and nodded in a conciliatory gesture toward his teammate.
Scourge Pack 1
Scourge Pack 2
Scourge Pack 3
Scourge Pack 4
Northern Lights were clearly frustrated by the card quality every time they opened a pack. Krzywicki's only two choices for his first pick were Rock Jockey or Farseer and he took the bird because it was a flier—an area of vulnerability for his deck.
Scourge Pack 5
Long's teammates tried everything to stop him from passing the Form of the Dragon to his opponent but Mike was steadfast and took a Carrion Feeder. His deck was shaping up to be very fast and the Form might be irrelevant. If he counterdrafted it then his own teammates would not have had as high quality picks—notably the Volcanist.
Scourge Pack 6
After a number of unimpressive packs opened by Northern Lights this final good pack for Prodigy seemed demoralizing. "Not one Daru Stinger!" complained Schneider. "There was none of anything--ridiculous!"
The Cutthroat seemed to be a particularly difficult pill to swallow. "My plan was to laugh at him when he took it and hope he decided not to play with it," Long half joked.
They all seemed impressed with Gindy's leadership skills and the solid decks Prodigy had as a result. "The kid in the middle was sharp," offered Krzywicki. Justin came back with, "The other two..." and let it trail off.
Long chalked his Dreamer pick up to a lost match up. Feeling he was losing, he did not want the Dreamer in Gindy's deck against a flierless red/white teammate. "Going into the last pack of Onslaught I had four cards!"
Prodigy was upset with their draft but pleased with their chances. "I undervalued Dragon Shadow," explained Gindy. "Although I don't understand the Dreamer over Mistform Wall from them when you are facing R/B beatdown. Also, is Mobilization any good in this format?"