Worlds Report, Part 2: Drafts!

After a passable 4-2 in the Standard portion of Worlds, Paul went into the Day 2 Drafts feeling supremely confident. Testing with the team, and Professor Tim Aten, had been successful, and Paul felt he could produce a 5-1 or 6-0 record with a little luck. Today’s report focuses on the games themselves, with special attention paid to the stonger and weaker plays. Looking to improve your 40-card game? Paul has the advice you need…

After Day 1, the only thing I wanted to do was pass out. The jetlag was really taking a toll on me, so we went straight into the hotel room. The television was still on, because we had left it on all night on the one channel that spoke English. It was an Italian music video channel that played American songs about half the time. The reason we left it on all night was because Luis is legendary for his thunderous snoring and we needed something to muffle that sound. Unfortunately this night, not even the songs of Io Canto (Adam Chambers‘ #1 song on that music channel) could stop Luis, and I “woke up” the following day extremely tired.

I was feeling pretty confident about draft day because we had done a lot of drafts going into this event. I was hoping to try to go into Blue if possible, but I was comfortable drafting any combination of colors except for B/W. Pairings were called and I immediately recognized Neil Reeves, Julien Nuijten, and Billy Moreno sitting at my table. It was a pretty star studded draft considering Worlds has a lot of unknown National Team members in it. Now onto the draft!

I opened my first pack hoping to see a reasonable Blue pick, and there was nothing there until I got to the rare. It was a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and I slammed it immediately. I believe I got passed a Rift Bolt next, and the draft went into autopilot from there. I ended up with a pretty strong U/R deck that had some filler in it, but I was still very happy with the deck and I felt that I could go 3-0 or 2-1. If I went Green instead of Red, my deck would be a lot stronger because I passed Neil three Penumbra Spiders and a bevy of other strong Green cards. Here is the list:

After playing with the deck I think the Flamecore Elemental should belong in the main, because I boarded it in almost every match.

Round 7: Billy Moreno (G/W/R)
Game 1 was a total blowout. I suspended Ephemeron and played a bunch of quality spells while he played a turn 1 Sidewinder Sliver followed up by a Quilled Sliver and an Icatian Crier. I either Grapeshotted or Conflagrated them away, and proceeded to win with big fliers. From what I saw, Billy’s deck looked like a three-color jumble of terrible cards and no bombs to give him a fighting chance…

Game 2 I had him on the ropes in the beginning while he kept playing lands and passing the turn. I felt like I couldn’t lose the game until he cast Sacred Mesa… I had no real way to deal with it. My only out was to draw the one Cancel in my deck and bounce the Sacred Mesa with the Riftwing Cloudskate in my hand. I ended up drawing the combo but it didn’t matter because he played both Squall Line and Stormbind to kill me. The matchup seemed a whole lot scarier after seeing those bombs. I looked at my sideboard and saw no answer for the game-winning enchantments, with the exception of a lone Molder. I decided to gun it anyway, and sideboarded in the Molder and 2 Forests. I took out an Island, a Mountain, and a Goblin Skycutter.

I really don’t remember what happened in the third game, but I don’t think Billy drew any of his bombs so my deck easily dispatched his.

Record: 5-2

Round 8: Julien Nuijten (B/R)
Julien had a very strong Black/Red deck, and game 1 was extremely close. He put an Undying Rage onto a Faceless Devourer and repeatedly bashed me with it. I was down to four life and managed to tap it with Coral Trickster for a turn, and then Rift Bolted it to take the game down. His deck was chock-full of removal and had a pretty good curve. For game 2 I brought in the Flamecore Elemental and Subterranean Shambler for a Goblin Skycutter and a Slipstream Serpent, because I saw no fliers and he had a lot of one-toughness critters.

For game 2 he just curved me out with a creature every turn, and I was not able to withstand the beats. I was on the verge of stabilizing with two cards in hand if I untapped, but he cast Stupor on me and I died to a couple of Mana Skimmers and other creatures. For game 3 I brought the Goblin Skycutter back in, for a Mogg War Marshal, because of his Skimmers.

Game 3 was the most seesaw game that I played all weekend. My opening hand was very strong, but apparently so was his. I played out a couple of creatures, and in one turn he killed all of them and Stupored the last two cards out of my hand (Willbender and Conflagrate). He had a Clockwork Hydra and a Mana Skimmer in play, and I had a Crookclaw Transmuter and no cards in hand. I felt like there was no way I could win until I drew Teferi right off the top. He attacked me with his Hydra and used the counter to kill the Crookclaw only to have me play the Teferi afterwards and block his 3/3 Hydra. He started muttering in Dutch and almost fell off of his chair, and told me how nice it was to be me, etc… I replied that it really was, and our life totals were at 12 each. I attacked him and played a Looter il-Kor that I drew for the turn. I drew a removal spell for the Mana Skimmer and morphed a Brine Elemental, and the tables were totally turned. Now it was looking as if I couldn’t possibly lose the game. He had no board, one card in hand, and I had Teferi, Looter il-Kor, a morphed Brine Elemental, and he was at 1 life. At this point I was thinking that there was no card in the format that would let him win from this situation, unless he had (and drew) a Bogardan Hellkite off the top… well, that’s exactly what he did, and he killed my Teferi and my Looter-il-Kor.

I still had outs because I had a Conflagrate in the graveyard but only one Mountain in play. All I had to do was draw a Mountain or Grapeshot to still win the game. Unfortunately my next two draw steps were Island and Island. He got me down to two life, and I still could have ripped a Mountain and flashed back Conflagrate to kill him, but he Mindstabbed me giving me almost no outs to win the game. I drew for my turn, and it was a Riftwing Cloudskate. He had two chumpers on the board for my morphed Brine Elemental so bouncing a creature was not an option. However, this topdeck was the biggest tease ever because if he hadn’t Mindstabbed me the turn before I could have played the Riftwing Cloudskate using my five Islands in play, and bounced my Mountain after floating the Red mana. Then I could have replayed the Mountain and used it to flashback the Conflagrate in my graveyard to kill him.

This was an epic battle, and despite the fact that I lost, it is one that I will remember for a long time. We both had moments that we thought we could not possibly lose, but he ended up getting the better of me.

Record: 5-3. I was pretty upset (to say the least) about the outcome of the last match, but realized that I still had a long day in front of me. I had to gather myself to try and win the next round. Despite losing the last round, I was still very confident in the deck, and I told myself that losing was not an option for the next round. The match against Julien was very close, and it could’ve easily been me in the 6-2 bracket.

Round 9: Ryouma Shiozu (U/W/b)
Ryouma qualified via Pro Club status Level 3. This meant that I had to play pretty tight to win this match, because I couldn’t expect a gravy trainer to make too many mistakes. Game 1 I got an insane draw where I suspended an Ephemeron on turns 2 and 3. He got me down to seven by attacking me with random weenies and a morph. I played a couple of creatures to muck up the ground, and once my Ephemerons hit play he had no way to stop them. He died pretty quickly. His deck looked like a typical U/W, deck but his morph turned out to be Soul Collector so I had to make sure to play around him Momentary Blinking his morphed Soul Collector and wrecking me with it. He also played a swamp game 1 so I wasn’t totally sure what the Black splash was for. There was no way that it could have been the Soul Collector, unless his deck was horrendous.

He had a lot of one-toughness creatures, including Amrou Scout, Errant Doomsayers, and double Zealot-il Vec, so I boarded in a second Flowstone Channeler and a Subterranean Shambler. I took out a Mogg War Marshal and Ib Halfheart. He was performing pretty terribly, especially since I only had seven Mountains in the deck.

I don’t remember too much of what happened game 2. I do know that I got to see his Black splash, and it was a Merieke Ri Berit. The game ended up being extremely close. He got me down to two life but I somehow finished him off. I apologize for the lack of detail in this match, but I have trouble remembering anything that happened.

Record: 6-3. After this round had ended, I was pretty happy with how the deck performed. Losing that close game to Julien kind of sucked, and I knew it would be in the back of my mind for the rest of the day, but I had to try to let it go. I expected to go 2-1 or 3-0 depending on how bombtastic my opponents’ decks would be, and Bogardan Hellkite is pretty devastating. It turns out he also had an Avatar of Woe in the deck! After the first pod, Luis ended up posting a 3-0 his pod and we were both 6-3. Since we basically have a split going into any big event, I was pretty happy with where we were.

My second pod had considerably less star power. I recognized 2005 Worlds Top 8 competitor Ding Leong, Portuguese National Team member Joao Martins, and a guy who was in my last pod Tomohide Sasagawa. I feel very confident that I will do well going into any draft, but I had a really good feeling about my chances in this pod. Once again, I was looking to draft Blue. I opened the first booster to see nothing, and hoped that the rare or Timeshifted card would save me. The rare was Serra Avenger, and nothing else of note was in the pack. Then I was passed an Errant Ephemeron and settled nicely into a U/W deck. The deck ended up being insane, and almost mono-Blue with Gauntlet of Power. Here is a list:

I was very happy with this deck. For a U/W deck to work, you need to have the right amount of bounce, evasion, tempo cards, and card advantage if you can afford to. This deck had it all. It had a very nice curve, and an awesome late game with triple Fathom Seers, and double Ephemerons. I usually don’t play with Dream Stalker, but with triple Fathom Seer and a Riftwing Cloudskate I just couldn’t see myself not playing it. Gauntlet of Power also seemed pretty sick in this deck (granted if there was a card to board out, this was usually it). Almost all the creatures were Blue and I had double Viscerid Deepwalkers. I expected a 3-0 or a 2-1 with the deck.

Round 10: Tomohide Sasagawa (B/W)
Tomohide qualified for Worlds by being a Level 3 pro. I knew I had my work cut out for me, and this match was the most mentally draining match that I played throughout the tournament. I won the die roll and I got a very good draw suspending Viscerid Deepwalker on turn 1, and an Errant Ephemeron on turn 2. That followed up with a Snapback, and a Temporal Isolation proved to be a bit too much tempo for him to handle. The way game 1 played out gave me supreme confidence in this deck, and I looked to the sideboard but couldn’t really find anything to bring in or out. The one card that scared me a bit was Magus of the Mirror, but I don’t think that alone warranted me bringing in Trickbind.

Game 2 was very close and I got almost the same draw as Game 1, but he played first this time. He curved out and I was at seven life to his six, and he had played a morph. I was really hoping that it was a Weathered Bodyguards, because if it was a Liege of the Pit I would just lose. Well, it wasn’t a Weathered Bodyguards

That game was close, and we were basically just bashing each other and racing. With this in mind, I decided to bring in Spirit Loop because his deck was pretty light on removal, and putting it on a Viscerid Deepwalker or an Errant Ephemeron seemed pretty strong. I don’t remember what I boarded out, but I think it was a Dream Stalker. The games didn’t go long enough where I would be able to bounce an unmorphed Fathom Seer and use the ability again.

Game 3 was the most intense game of the match. I kept a hand of Island, Plains, Benalish Cavalry, Spirit Loop, Fathom Seer, Giant Oyster, and Momentary Blink. The hand was a bit speculative, but I decided to run it because I had a turn 2 play and if I didn’t draw a land by turn 3 I could just stick a Spirit Loop onto the Benalish Cavalry to buy me some time. I did not draw the land on turn 3, and he played an Amrou Scout and Amrou Seekers on turn 2 and 3… and it was off to the races. I missed my land drop on turn 4 as well, and it was looking really bad. He followed up the turn with a morph, and I knew I was in trouble. I had a Snapback in hand so I knew I would be able to bounce the Liege of the Pit once and try to draw answers later. I managed to draw my third land on turn 5, and a couple turns later I played a Giant Oyster. I was down to six life, and he unmorphed his Liege of the Pit. I had to use the alternate casting cost of Snapback to bounce it to stay alive. This prevented him from morphing it that turn, and gave me a turn where I could cast a Gauntlet of Power on blue so that I could go off on the following turn. I had an Errant Ephemeron in my hand and I was planning on putting the Spirit Loop on it. He morphed the Liege again as expected and I drew the perfect card for his Liege of the Pit, in the form of Temporal Isolation. He attacked me and unmorphed, and when I cast the Isolation on it, his reaction was priceless. He looked so devastated. I felt bad for the guy, because he looked like a close family member had just passed away. After missing my land drops on turns 3 and 4, it was starting to turn around and look as if I was going to pull through. This was until he cast a Magus of the Mirror

This complicated things so much. He was on fourteen and I was on eight, and he had a Liege of the Pit with Temporal Isolation, Trespasser il-Vec, and Magus of the Mirror, to my Giant Oyster, Errant Ephemeron with Spirit Loop, and a couple of other creatures that I can’t remember. There was no way for me to kill him that turn, so I decided that I would kill him in two turns, and did not attack with the Errant Ephemeron with Spirit Loop (5/5 with Gauntlet of Power on Blue). He took the damage from my other guys, and it put him at nine life to my eight life. At the end of my turn he mana-burned down to four life. This is where things got tricky. I had to mana-burn so that I could negate his Magus of the Mirror, but I couldn’t go below three life because he had a Trespasser il-Vec… he would merely sacrifice his Magus of the Mirror to the Liege of the Pit, give his Trespasser shadow, and attack for the win. So the simple thing would be for me to manaburn down to four… but I also knew that he had a Fortify in his deck, and he had two cards in hand. The correct number to burn down to was six life. That way he can’t just choose to sacrifice his Magus in his upkeep (to Liege of the Pit) and Fortify his Trespasser for the win. I know it sounds a bit complicated, but that’s because it was. While all of this was going through my head, I also realized that he actually could not afford to activate Magus of the Mirror on his upkeep, because that would cause him to sacrifice his Trespasser il-Vec to Liege of the Pit. It was a great mind trick attempt on his part, to try and get me to manaburn low enough to give him an opportunity to win. I still mana-burned down to six, because he still could have used the Magus of the Mirror and dealt some damage to me, and he would gain life. The last game took a very long time, and eventually went to time. After what seemed like an eternity, he drew for his turn and conceded.

Record: 7-3 Wow! That was an exciting game. Winning a tight game like that felt so good. Tomohide played very well that match, and it was another one of those matches that I will remember down the line. I was very confident with the deck and I felt that I was playing on top of my game. That match took a lot out of me mentally, but I still had to gather myself because there were two more rounds to be played!

Round 11: Joao Martins
Joao Martins is part of the Portuguese National team, and I recognize him through Magic Online. He was a former clanmate of the clan Dragonquest on MTGO, and so we almost knew each other. He was playing an aggressive R/G deck with lots of Thallids, combat tricks, and Empty the Warrens. Game 1 I suspended a Viscerid Deepwalker on turn 1 and an Errant Ephemeron on turn 2. He got a pretty slow draw, and once my suspended creatures hit play he went down very quickly. This game was not very close, and I won the game at sixteen life.

Since I took the game down pretty quickly, I couldn’t really figure out what to bring in. The only options were: Zealot il-Vec, Spirit Loop, Slipstream Serpent, D’Avenant Healer, and Trickbind. The maindeck cards seemed very strong so I didn’t bring in anything.

Game 2 he got a strong draw including a suspended Keldon Halberdier on turn 1, Thallid Shell-Dweller on turn 2, Thallid Germinator on turn 3, and an Empty the Warrens for 4 tokens once the Halberdier hit play. My hand wasn’t that bad, but his was just a bit too explosive and I was always a step behind on tempo. This was the opposite of the first game, and he ended the game at eighteen life.

I boarded in a Spirit Loop in the hopes of trying to outrace his ground pounders, and I took out a Dream Stalker. In game 3 I got an absolutely amazing draw. I suspended a Viscerid Deepwalker on turn 1. Then I suspended an Ephemeron on turn 2. And I followed that up with a suspended Riftwing Cloudskate on turn 3. He put some pressure early, but once the suspends started hitting play, and with the backup of bounce spells, the Cloudskate and Ephemeron devoured his life total.

Record: 8-3 After this round, Luis had also won his first two rounds and we were both sitting comfortable at 8-3. We were in good shape to make a run for the Top 8, and his deck was also very strong. I played two of the three players that I recognized at the table, and it’s only fitting that I play the third right?

Round 12: Ding Leong (U/B)
According to Tim Aten, Ding Leong is a seventh of the man that I’ll ever be. I hate to admit it, but my grandfather was a minister and he gave me my Korean name. The literal translation of my Korean name is Seven Bells Cheon. Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! Anyway, so that’s where the joke originated. When I got back home, Tim immediately sent me a nice little link to commemorate my special name.

Back to Magic…

Game 1 was a pretty close game where we were essentially racing each other. I had an Ephemeron that was going to work, but he had a suspended Phthisis and his game plan was to get me low enough so that the Phthisis would kill the Ephemeron and, effectively, me. Everything worked out for him because he got me down to six life and played the Phthisis, targeting my Ephemeron. Good thing I had the Momentary Blink! I killed him on the following turn.

I boarded in a Slipstream Serpent because he was Blue, and a Trickbind because I saw two Phthisis in his deck game 1 (he hardcast one game 1). It seemed pretty cool to be able to Trickbind the coming-into-play ability of Phthisis once the last suspend counter is removed. He also had some madness cards in his deck, so I figured I’d be able to counter a madness card with it. I boarded out a Gauntlet of Power and a Dream Stalker. Game 2 was not very close. He suspended a Phthisis on turn 2, and when it was about to hit play I Trickbinded it. I ended the game at 18 life and unmorphed either two or three Fathom Seers in a long drawn out game where I was drawing a whole bunch of cards and had a huge board to his nothing.

Record: 9-3. Wa Wo Wi Wa! Needless to say I was pretty ecstatic about how I ended the day. All I needed was a 4-1-1 record to make Top 8 of Worlds! Unfortunately Luis lost the last round of the day and ended at 8-4, but he could still make top 8 if he went 5-0-1. Ben Lundquist ended up going 3-3 on the day, because his draft deck in pod 2 was abysmal. Our team record for the day was 13-5, and we made up a lot of ground. Going into Day 2, the U.S. was ranked 18th overall. After Day 2, we were 5th. This put us into excellent position for the run at winning the team event. A solid performance on Day 3 and we would really like our chances!

I still had not chosen the deck that I wanted to play for Extended, and I just wanted to sleep. So the only natural thing for me to do was to hang around and get in on a team draft against Rich Hoaen, Jelger Wiegersima, and Neil Reeves. I was teamed with Adam Chambers and Luis Scott-Vargas. We ended up winning in a close draft where it came down to the match between Rich and me. Unfortunately, I always seem to hose Rich when we play (or get nut draws), and it wasn’t even close (manascrew game 1 and mulligan to five game 2). Day 3 was coming, and I hadn’t picked a deck. It made for a fun day 3, and I’ll let you in on all the action next time!

Until then,


P.S. I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Zareh Mirbegian, a.k.a. “Z.” He always wanted to be mentioned in an article, so I’m doing it now! He’s a very good Limited player from the Los Angeles area and he actually helped me get a lot better when I first started playing in real life around Kamigawa Block. Oh, and another thing: in my article on my stay at Vermillion University, I believe my statement may have been a bit broad when it came to testing with others for Pro Tours. The message was meant for people who were already qualified for Yokohama, and to be able to get a test group amongst those people. I ended up getting a bunch of e-mails from aspiring Pro Tour Qualifier players. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the e-mails – keep sending them if you have any questions about anything at all. I’ll do my best to help out but as far as testing goes, I’d prefer it if it were for the people who were already qualified. Thanks!