GP Tampa Champion Sol Malka
Grand Prix Tampa drew to a close, ending one great weekend of competitive play. Many of the top North American players attended this Grand Prix, including all eight members of the Magic Colony. In the end, "The People's Champion" Sol Malka overcame 16 rounds of play to take the top prize. The competition leading to this title was some of the most fierce in recent memory, with 4th through 12th places ending in a tie at 31 points.
Black was the story of day one, with a vast majority of the decks playing Black. Interestingly enough, of the six decks that went undefeated on day 1, four of them played Black, while five of them played Green.
On the second day, many players chose to avoid Black, since unlike the previous day, there was only a single pack of Torment. This strategy worked for many, but also created situations where players were able to draft mono-black decks which swept entire tables.
So what did we learn from this weekend?
- The Magic Colony is for real, putting four players in the top 12 (including a 2nd place finish by Jeff Cunningham), and half the team in the top 32. While they've proved their skill in Odyssey block limited, we eagerly await to see the decks they will concoct for Pro Tour Osaka.
- People need to be extra-careful registering their decks! Almost all of the penalties given out this weekend were for people misregistering their cards. It only takes and extra 2-3 minutes to make sure you've registered all your cards on your deck registration sheet, but dozens of game and match losses were given out to players due to simple carelessness.
- Black simply dominates Odyssey/Torment sealed deck, due to the huge influx of black cards in Torment. While Green, Blue and Red were all fairly represented, White fell way behind on the curve, appearing in the fewest decks by a large margin. Most players agree that White got the shaft in Torment, and many expressed hopes that Judgment helped give this color a much needed boost.
- Don't mouth off to the Tournament Organizer.
- Cheating doesn't pay, ever.
On top of that, here are some observations I made during the event:
- The judging staff here was excellent and eager to learn. Whenever they had a question, they consulted with Colin Jackson to find out the proper ruling/procedure. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of this fine group of officials judging their own title events sometime in the near future!
- John Shannon (from Braingames) and Tim Weissman (from Event Horizons) hosted a flawless tournament. In case you didn't know, they were the organizers of this event, and their staff (including John's lovely girlfriend Deborah Wohlfeld and Tim's beautiful wife Sheila Weissman) kept the side events running, the PTQ on time, and made the registration process painless for all tournaments on the weekend.
- The general atmosphere at the Coliseum definitely ranked among the most positive of any event I've ever attended. People seemed to be in high spirits all weekend, with a lot of laughter and positive words being bandied about the hall.
- The staff behind the scenes contributed greatly towards making this a smooth event. They included Randy Buehler (who provided match coverage and was in charge of getting all the articles uploaded to the Sideboard), Monty Ashley (who actually sits at Wizards of the Coast and posts all the articles sent by Randy onto the web), Scott Larabee (the head scorekeeper, who kept entered all the match results during the Grand Prix, determined the pairings, and determined the money winners at the end of the event), Collin Jackson (head judge extraordinaire, who handled every situation that came up this weekend with grace and poise), Kurtis Hahn (who provided match coverage during the event), Joshua Claytor (who joined up on day two to cover matches as well), and myself (Ben Bleiweiss, who contributed a ton of color articles, and who also typed in every deck list that appeared on the site for the weekend).
Until next time, this is The Sideboard signing off. We hope that you enjoyed the coverage we provided of Grand Prix Tampa 2002, and look forward to having you in our audience again for coverage of GP Antwerp and Pro Tour Osaka in the coming weeks!