Pyrosin's picture
By: Pyrosin, Matt Rossi
May 24 2008 6:40pm
Login to post comments

Grand Prix Brussels

The town hall of Brussels.

Welcome Magic Fans to the latest edition of The Highlight Reel.  So there was a limited event a couple of weeks ago now, Grand Prix Brussels.  The format for the 1471 players that gathered on Saturday entailed 9 rounds of sealed followed by a cut to the Top 128.  Players then traded their sealed pools for 6 rounds of booster draft on Day 2 to arrive at our Top 8, which would be settled by a final triple Shadowmoor draft.

I've been on vacation which is why this article is so late in coming (Sorry); and since Shadowmoor hasn't been released online yet, I don't have any clue as to what half the cards being discussed on the podcasts do (Sorry again).  So this article will be on the terse side.  But fear not, I still think I've gleamed some information from the coverage that should be very useful come the  Shadowmoor online release. 

Follow along as we try to figure out which color combinations and archetypes the Pros found to be most successful in this new format.  And see who emerged victorious from another star-studded Top 8.


Shadowmoor = Removal-less


So, I don't know if you've heard, but the removal spells in Shadowmoor kinda stink.  The one big exception to that statement is Incremental Blight, which is about as close to a five-mana, one-sided Wrath of God you should ever see.  The tempo swing of this card, in many cases just means gg.  But after that we get a lot more situational in our kill spells.

Gloomlance is the only card in the set that has the words "Destroy target creature" in it.  Burn Trail and Flame Javelin provide the burn in .  But beyond that, instead of real removal, we get stuff like Gloomwidow's Feast, Inquisitor's Snare, Last Breath, and Fate Transfer: narrow cards that play into the subthemes of the set and will allow you to get rid of a threat if you're lucky.

The other funny thing about Shadowmoor as a set is that it has a lot of creatures like Mistmeadow Witch; awesome, high activation cost abilities on sub-par creatures.  (Just an aside on Mistmeadow Witch: when you get up to eight mana with this guy in play, you can remove two blockers at the end of his turn, and then another two on your turn before the attack step, which in most cases is enough to give you a clear board to attack into.) 

So what does the combination of poor removal spells and a weak creature base mean in the world of Shadowmoor limited?  Tempo.  At least at GP Brussels, it looked like it was very hard for the player that gets off to the slower start to stabilize the board unless he has a bomb like the aforementioned Incremental Blight.  If a player could get a couple of weenies on the board in the first few turns, then that was usually enough to win the race. 

How the mechanics play

  • The Hybrid theme meant there was a lot of paying  for Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers in  decks that put a lot of strain on manabases, making splashing a third color more tricky.  So try to stick with two colors.
  • Conversely, this also put a higher premium on the colorless, and therefore flexible, Scarecrow creatures such as Scrapbasket.  Pick them up where you can.
  • Wither makes creatures like Sickle Ripper and Cinderbones far more formidable then they should be.  Thumbs up.
  • The best use of Conspire revolves around having little Red men with multiple copies of Burn Trail and Giantbaiting, so one and two drop are a must.
  • And yes, the untap ability on cards like Silkbind Faerie is as good as you thought it would be.


One other thing...

Another consequence of the removal-light environment is that creature enchantments are back  in a big way.  There's a common cycle of hybrid creature enchantments that includes the likes of Steel of the Godhead.  If a creature enchanted with one of these cards is allowed to sit on the board for any significant period of time, things can get out of hand in a hurry. 

So don't overlook those Elvish Hexhunters and Gleeful Sabotages.

Viva la France!

The tournament itself was dominated by big name French players.  Gabriel Nassif opened not one, but TWO Twilight Shephards in his sealed pool, which is totally unfair in my opinion.  He went 9-0 on Day 1.  Joining him on 9-0 were fellow countrymen Antoine Ruel and Raphael Levy, as you can see from their decklists here, all three were playing with lots of Islands.  By way of their stellar performances on Day 1, these three top level Pros coasted to the Top eight where they were joined by relative unknowns Gaetan Lefebvre and Alexandre Peset, both of France, Rogier Kleij of Belgium, and Holger Lange of Germany.  Ah, but that's only seven, who was our final Top eight competitor you ask? Well it was none other than Kamiel Cornelissen; the local boy who was Dutch National Champion in 2006 and part of the team that won at Worlds that year, oh and by the way he also has five Pro Tour Top 8's to his credit. 

Regretfully, we don't have a draftviewer for the Top eight, but you can see all eight decklists here.  And if you take a look at those eight decks you'll see that 1.) every deck had two colors, with minimal splashing; and 2.) five of the eight decks played  as a main color.  In the quarterfinals, all four big name players defeated their lesser-known opponents, setting up some epic semifinal matches with Antoine Ruel vs Gabriel Nassif and Raphael Levy vs Kamiel Cornelissen.  With three in the Top four, it looked like the French juggernaut would conquer Belgium in a fashion that had not been seen since Napoleon's invasion of 1815.  That left only Cornelissen to defend his home turf by playing the role of Wellington and producing a repeat of the Battle of Waterloo (aside: the battlefield is located just eight miles from Brussels). 

And defend the homeland is exactly what Cornelissen did.  For the Semifinals match, Cornelissen had a deck that contained much larger creatures than that of Levy.  Levy was able to get off to the quick start he needed only once, forcing him  to chump block Cornelissen creatures in the other two games, and without any removal spells of consequence fell to Cornelissen 2-1.

Gabriel Nassif emerged victorious from the other Semi, and won the first game of the Final with a timely Firespout.  In Game two, Cornelissen had a couple big beaters on the board and used an Aphotic Wisps to force through lethal damage.  Then in the decider Cornelissen got out some flyers while Cinderbones and a Persist Creature held the ground.  Cornelissen defeats Nassif 2-1 to win GP Brussels.

Congratulations to Kamiel Cornelissen, Winner of GP Brussels!

Top 20 in the 2008 Player of the Year Standings 
Following GP Brussels

Ranking Player Points
1 Jon Finkel* 25
2 Mario Pascoli 20
3 Joel Calafell 17
4 Marcio Carvalho 16
4 Ming Xu 16
4 Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 16
7 Paul Cheon* 15
7 Shuuhei Nakamura* 15
9 Olivier Ruel 14
9 Raphael Levy 14
11 Yuuta Takahashi* 13
12 Nicolai Herzog 12
12 Mike Hron 12
14 Robert van Medevoort 11
14 Martin Juza 11
14 Gabriel Nassif 11
17 Brandon Scheel 10
17 Steve Sadin 10
17 Tomoharu Saitou 10
17 Kamiel Cornelissen* 10

* 2008 Event Winner

Player of the Year Race

Heading into Pro Tour Hollywood, Jon Finkel still leads the PotY Race.  Both Raphael Levy and Gabriel Nassif moved up in the standings due to their Top eight appearances. 

It looked like Guillaume Wafo-Tapa would make it four big name Frenchmen in the Top eight of GP Brussels as he sat atop the standings with the other three big Frenchies, at 11-1 following the first twelve rounds.  Unfortunately, Wafo-Tapa went 0-3 in his last draft pod and missed out on the Top eight.  Still, with the one Pro Point he earned for finishing 36th, Wafo-Tapa moved into a tie for fourth.

Join me next week when we take a look at the results from Pro Tour Hollywood as we're sure to see a big shake up in the standing as all those points from the Pro Tour are divvied up.