Weekend Windfall – 1/18/13 – Ten Thousand Hours
Each Friday afternoon, Still Had All These gets you ready for your Magic weekend by looking back at the past seven days of topdecks, mises, misplays, and whatever cards might possibly be more clumsily written than Glaring Spotlight!
I Hope That God Decides To Talk Through Him
We start things off a little more serious this week as on Monday, we learned of the passing of Itaru Ishida. Ishida was one of the pioneers of Japanese Magic at a professional level. Ishida posted a decade of major tournament success, including 17 Grand Prix top eight performances (7th all time) and a second place finish at Pro Tour Seattle in 2004. While he had limited Pro Tour success, Ishida was known as a deckbuilder of great acumen, providing Kenji Tsumura with the ammunition he needed to take down the 2005 Player of the Year race with a second place finish at Pro Tour Philadelphia and a top four finish at Pro Tour LA that year. Ishida is remembered by Keita Mori on the mothership. We'll remember him with this image from PT Houston 2002, playing friend of the blog Ken Krouner. Itaru Ishida was 33.
Ken Krouner faced Itaru Ishida in a round three Feature Match. He was worried about his chances because he was with Rock, and Ishida had spent his first two rounds dismantling Rock decks. Still, things were looking good for Krouner. Despite Ishida's using two Wishes to find Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge as well as Stroke of Genius to stock up on card advantage, he had no answer for Krouner's Treetop Village and Pernicious Deed took care of his Psychatog. At two life, he untapped with five land in play, thanks to a Thwart staving off a second Deed. He played his third Wish, and pulled out Corpse Dance. The sixth land came down and Krouner was suddenly very dead. Said Krouner "That is the coolest thing that's ever happened to me in a match I lost."
About Damn Time I Got Around The Country And Hit These Stages
Standard had its last pre-Gatecrash hurrah on the Grand Prix scene this past weekend in Atlantic City. All told, 1646 players signed up to put their play on the line for a chance to qualify for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze and to hoist the GP trophy. What was though to be a pretty settled Standard metagame took yet another shift in its waning weeks, though, as the finals featured not one but two decks based around the most reviled of card type; the Aura.
Bant Auras - Jon Stern - Winner, Grand Prix Atlantic City - 1/12/13
This deck looks to use hexproof creatures as delivery implements for powerful effects like Ethereal Armor, Increasing Savagery, and a 4/4 Angel token. Once soulbonded with a Silverblade Paladin, the hexproofers go from adorable threat to actual menace. The nature of the deck restricts the angles an opponent can attack them from. Cavern of Souls gives them counterspell insurance, while the hexproofers mean an opponent has to have Supreme Verdict or Liliana of the Veil to get Stern's threats off the board. The best part of the deck is that many of the hate cards in the sideboard are enchantments as well, keeping the effectiveness of Ethereal Armor high!
Also in the top eight, Ari Lax piloted a version of the mono-red deck we showed you last week, losing to Josh Utter-Leyton's Bant Auras in the semifinals. Lax had two copies of the value land Hellion Crucible in his deck. We're always a fan of value lands here and I'll be giving this deck a spin on the Magic Cruise next week. The top eight was rounded out with a couple of Jund decks, a pair of blue/white control decks (one splashing red for reach through burn, and the other splashing black for removal and Nephalia Drownyard grindiness), and Brad Nelson piloting something he called Peddle to the Metal. Brad used Nightshade Peddler in combination with direct damage champions Izzet Staticaster and Olivia Voldaren to create a machine gun effect. One shot killed any creature Brad could target on the other side of the board. Brad fit those combos into a Jund shell, allowing him to play spicy Snapcaster Mages in his sideboard. Have you ever flashed back a [card Rakdos's Return]Rakdos's Return[/card]? It feels pretty good. You can relive GP Atlantic City through the mothership's coverage here.
Across the country in San Diego, Star City brought its Open Series to town, and the Standard portion saw Izzet Statcaster and Nightshade Peddler together in two decks to give everyone else the pew pew pews. Joe Lossett won the Standard Open using Angel of Glory's Rise to bring back a ton of Humans at once, including temporary human Huntmaster of the Fells. Josue Rojano had a list very similar to Brad Nelson's, and Josue finished in the top 4 of the event. The sweetest brew from the top 8 of the Standard Open, though, has to go to Andrej Selivra, who just couldn't wait for Stomping Ground to be reprinted. He had to get his red-green beats on, putting cards like Flinthoof Boar, Hellrider, and Strangleroot Geist together with last season's all-star, Wolfir Silverheart. You can see the top 8 decklists here.
On Sunday, Legacy took over as usual in San Diego, and the top 8 had a very strange crown for the format. Tony Murata took home the Legacy Open with his take on TwelvePost, an archetype similar to Tron. It looks to make a ton of mana from Cloudpost by playing 4 copies of it, 4 copies of Glimmerpost, and 4 copies of Vesuva along with tons of ways to find them. It then uses that mana to play cards like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The rest of the top 8 featured a rare appearance from Dredge along with the usual RUG Delver, Esper Stoneblade, and Reanimator. You can see the lists for yourself here.
Ten Thousand Hours Felt Like Ten Thousand Hands
This week, a book co-authored by Brian Kibler, Luis Scott-Vargas, Paulo Vitor Dama do Rosa, and Craig Wescoe released on the Kindle. It's called Ten Packs: A Return to Ravnica Draft Strategy Guide. The book aims to provide insight from the four pros as they share their thoughts first together on five packs of RtR, and then separately for five packs of their own. You can check it out from the Kindle Store or take a look at it on Amazon. I've gotten a chance to read the first part of the book, where the four pros provide their analysis on five packs together. After reading it, I wish this book was written earlier in the RtR lifespan. With the format so fleshed out at this point, the pros mostly come to a consensus on picks, varying only as they go deeper into the pack based on personal preferences in the format. Except for Craig Wescoe, that delicate snowflake. I recommend reading the book for yourself to see (it's free to check out if you have Amazon Prime and only 8 bucks if you don't!), but Wescoe is certainly a one-way player, and it shows in his picks. I would like to see more articles and books like this, especially in nascent formats. When I've casted some of my drafts, I find feedback from the audience helpful. I know my biases cause me to tend to certain archetypes and cards over others, and getting perspectives from some of the best players in the game is always helpful. Here's to Ten More Packs in the future.
But There's No Encore Today Cause The Moment Is Now
Lots of events again this weekend for viewers at home if you can't make it to either of the GPs or the SCG Open weekend. Here's what's on tap!
- It's the last weekend of Grand Prix before Gatecrash comes out, and WotC has 2 GPs across the world. Unfortunately, the closest we'll get to one in the states is watching live coverage of Grand Prix Bilbao on the mothership's Twitch channel. The format is Modern, but the turnout may be light due to heavy rains in the area over the past couple of weeks. Spain and Magic events are no strangers to heavy rains, so I hope everything goes off without a hitch.
- Meanwhile, all the way down under, it's the last hurrah for Return to Ravnica sealed and booster draft. Grand Prix Sydney will feature the limited formats and will not have video coverage. Back in the States, we'll be depending on text coverage for the event, which likely will be on a 19 hour delay. The last GP in Oceania drew less than 300 players for Standard, so it'll be interesting to see how well this draws at a format's end.
- SCG brings the heavy hitters to Dallas for the Open Series. As usual, you can find video coverage on their Twitch channel, and the team this week is Cedric Phillips and Osyp Lebedowicz. Osyp's in a booth? What could possibly go wrong?
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Oh, right, that. If you're not interested in watching SCG Live's coverage after watching that, I don't know what to tell ya. Saturday will feature Standard as always, and Sunday will bring Legacy to the spotlight. This is the last broadcast Standard tournament before Gatecrash is legal, Osyp's covering it... just tune in. Pack a ham sandwich.
What event will I be at? I'll be on a boat. It's a big, blue, watery road. I'm going to be flying out to Miami to board Magic Cruise 5! Next week, while I'm sailing away, you'll get a review of Gatecrash spoilers. And in two weeks, I'll recap the Cruise, this weekend's events, and whatever shenanigans take place between here and there! As always, you can catch up with me on Facebook, Twitter or Twitch, and I promise I'll be streaming a lot more once Gatecrash comes out on Magic Online. Until then, stay safe, stay dry, and know where your fairy godmother is.