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By: Pyrosin, Matt Rossi
Jun 29 2008 9:58pm
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Grand Prix Indianapolis

The United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis...
oh wait, wrong kind of Grand Prix.

Welcome Race Fans to Indianapolis and this week's edition of the Highlight Reel.  This time around we had another Shadowmoor Limited event featuring the largest turnout for a North American Grand Prix with 1123 participants. 

Follow along to see who successfully battled their way through 9 rounds of Sealed play on Day One and 2 Draft Pods on Day Two to make Top 8 in a field full of top players from all around the world.

Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime

 It's now offically summer, and that means more Pro Points and more money for competitors during the first "Grand Prix Summer Series." 

  Regular Grand Prix Summer Series
Place Prize Money Pro Points Prize Money Pro Points
1 $3,500 8 $4,000 10
2 $2,300 6 $3,000 8
3-4 $1,500 5 $2,000 6
5-8 $1,000 4 $1,500 5
9-12 $600 3 $1,000 4
13-16 $600 3 $1,000 3
17-32 $400 2 $500 2
33-64 $200 1 $250 1

The Summer Series is Wizards' attempt to make up for the removal of a Pro Tour from this year's schedule.  Hey, its better than nothing.  This new prize structure will be in effect over the next seven GP Events starting now and leading up to the summer finale at GP Manilla in late August.   

Gentlemen, Start Your Cardslinging!

As I mentioned before, with an attendence of 1123 players, GP Indy now has the title of largest North American Magic event, surplanting GP Philly from earlier this year, which had 969 players.  Following the round rounds of Sealed on Day One, there were four players left with perfect records.  You can see their decklists here.  First was Jaime Parke, former Worlds Top 8 competitor from way in back in 1999, sporting a sealed pool with such gems as Kitchen Finks, Prison Term, Order of the Whiteclay, and Firespout.  Also on 9-0 were Cody Damm (Editor's note:  Who for some reason was listed as being from Louisville, Tennessee, he's actually from Kentucky.) playing a  deck with Steel of the Godhead and Incremental Blight, Randy Wright with  aggro, and hometown hero Eric Franklin who entered the day on 0 byes.  But who needs byes when you open Murderous Recap, Burn Trail, Flame Javelin, and Incremental Blight?  I mean really.

Also sitting pretty at the end of Day One on 8-1 were a number of Big Name Pros including: Chris Lachmann of PT San Diego Fame, Jelger Wiegersma PT Seattle Winner, Paulo Vitor da Rosa, Zac Hill, Player of the Year Tomoharu Saito, and Brandon Scheel; all in prime position to make a run at Top 8 on Day Two.

But with a field this large, there were also a huge number of Pros that didn't open the good in their sealed pooled and had to go home on Saturday.  Some of the early casualties included: Shuuhei Nakamura, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Luis Scott-Vargas, Pat Chapin, Ben Lundquist, Antonino De Rosa, Gabriel Nassif, Raphael Levy, and Paul Cheon.

Mudbrawler Raiders
 Well onto Day Two and the draft portion of the tournament.  And in the world of triple Shadowmoor draft, that means there's a couple different archetypes to choose from.  You've got  aggro, or   aggro, or  aggro, or  aggro, or if you want to get crazy, then you can even go with  aggro.  Yeah, yeah, monocolor decks work too.  My point is that, after reading over two limited GP events (here and Brussels) and my own limited (meaning not a lot) experience in Shadowmoor limited (meaning the format) during release events, tells me that to be successful in this format you better have a creature on Turn two, and you better not miss a land drop before Turn four when most of the creatures curve out with the cycle of 3/3s that include Mudbrawler Raiders.

Day Two is kinda funny at these limited Grand Prix's.  128 Players fill 16 draft pods, and since you play against the people you draft with for the three rounds,  its mathematically impossible for a bunch of guys to caught up from behind in the standings.  For instance, every guy that started Day Two between 39th and 126th place at GP Indy had 21 points for going 7-2 on Day One.  The only chance these guys had for Top eight would be to win both draft pods on Saturday to reach 39 points.  Starting the day 24 points is such a huge advantage, because if you can win your first pod of the day, then its just a win and a couple draws into the Top eight.  That was exactly the path taken by Jelger Wiegersma who after 16 rounds sat in 3rd place with 38 points and found himself squarely in the Top eight.  Joining the Dutchman in the Top eight were 7 Americans: Jamie Park, Tyler Mantey who made Top 8 at Philly earlier this year, Eric Franklin, James Beltz, and two time Ohio State Champ Randy Wright.  Not surprisingly, everyone in the Top 8 started Day Two at least 8-1 where not even everyone on 37 points made it in.  Tough luck for Clayton Mooney and Tim Aten, who had 37 points but fell short on tiebreakers.

Top 8

Going into the Top 8, the consensus favorite was the former Pro Tour Seattle Winner Jelger Wiegersma.  You can check out the player profiles here, and the decks they drafted here(Wish we had a draft viewer!)

Ben Rasmussen () vs. Tyler Mantey ()

Both players started with mulligans, but Ben had so much fun the first time he shipped his hand back a second time as well.  Tyler got a Sickle Ripper down on Turn 2, while Rasmussen was stuck on two lands.  Tyler played a couple more creatures to get ahead.  Ben scooped when Tyler had a Prismwake Merrow to change the color of a Shield of the Oversoul-enhanced Tattermunge Duo after blockers to make the Duo small enough that it couldn't survive combat.  Rasmussen had a much better start to Game 2 when his Turn 1 Seedcradle Witch got suited up with the Shield on Turn 3.  But after 2 swings, a Biting Tether allowed Tyler to steal the potential gamebreaker.  Creatures traded for a couple of turns as Tyler gained board position with a Silkbind Faerie, then played out an unblockable Inkfathom Infiltrator to force through the final couple points.  Mantey advances 2-0.

Jelger Wiegersma (vs Randy Wright ()

Wiegersma was playing a near mono  deck with just a splash of  for double Power of Fire, while Wright had a pretty standard  beatdown deck with 3 Hungry Spriggans.  Jelger had Mistmeadow Witch followed by Parapet Watchers to start off against a Hungry Spriggan and Mudbrawler Raiders from Randy.  Jelger came back with a Watchwing Scarecrow to stabilize the board, but Randy had the Barkshell Blessing to get rid of the Scarecrow during combat.  Spriggan beats brought Jelger down to 8, but Tyler was out of gas and Jelger played out Dire Undercurrents, which in Jelger's deck read "Whenever you play a creature, draw a card."  Jelger got rid of the Spriggan with a double block and was now racing ahead on cards when Randy played Knollspine Invocation.  But Power of Fire on Silkbind Faerie let Jelger start machine gunning and clearing the way of blockers, and when a big mana spell didn't come off the top for Randy, that was Game 1.  Wiegersma leads 1-0.

Randy had a nice start to Game 2, curving out through Turn 4 with four creatures on the board, but Jelger did likewise.  Between Hungry Spriggan and pumps from Tattermunge Witch and Barkshell Blessing, Randy was able to put a major hurt on Jelger's blockers.  But again Jelger found Dire Undercurrents and starting playing creatures at an alarming rate for Randy.  And eventually Jelger's avalanche of creatures gave him the win.  Jelger advances 2-0.

Gaudenis Vidugiris (vs James Beltz ()

The first major threat of the match was a Leech Bonder from Vidugiris, which got bounced but came back with a Tattermunge Witch, while James only had a Cinderhaze Wretch to play defense.  Gaudenis applied the pressure with several attacks, and then played out an Oona, Queen of the Fae to seal Game 1.  Game 2 started with Gaudenis stuck on only Islands, meaning he couldn't play half his deck until he found a Mountain.  What creatures he did play out were obliterated by Beltz's Incremental Blight.  James was now on the offense as Gaudenis tried to rebuild his board.  They traded for several more turns until Beltz found a Corrupt to finish Gaudenis off.  Match tied at 1-1.  Game 3 saw Gaudenis get out his second bomb of the draft on board early in the form of Swans of Bryn Argoll which in short order took Beltz all the way down to 5 life.  Some craziness ensued when Beltz played Beseech the Queen for Incremental Blight with Blowfly Infestation on the board for him and a Grief Tyrant for Gaudenis.  When everything had resolved, James was left with a lowly 1/1, while Gaudenis still had creatures to play.  James bought himself an extra turn with a Corrupt, but a Scuzzback Marauders put too much damage on the board.  Gaudenis advances 2-1.

Jamie Parke () vs Eric Franklin ()

For Game 1 Parke didn't have a play until a Turn 4 Raven's Run Dragoon while Eric already had a Smolder Initiate and Leech Bonder on the board.  A pump spell allowed Eric to remove the Dragoon during combat, but Parke had another Dragoon to replace the first.  Franklin tried to keep up the pressure, but he just didn't have the threats.  Double Ballynock Cohorts put up a wall of defense for Parke.  A couple of flyers showed up for Parke in the form of Glamer Spinners and Rune-Cervin Rider to finish the job in Game 1.  Game 2 saw each player with creatures early to clog up the board.  Eric got 6 damage through with a fearful Gravelgill Duo.  A Leech Bonder and Barkshell Blessing allowed Eric to make some favorable combat phases, and then he sat behind a Smolder Initiate to drain way Jamie's life one point at a time.  Parke had no answers and the match was tied at 1.

Franklin began the decider with Smolder Initiate and Scuttlemutt while Parke got online with a Raven's Run Dragoon and Barrenton Medic.  Both players added multiple creatures to the board, then following a couple attacks, Parke had a Mercy Killing on his own Raven's Run Dragoon, giving him 6 creatures to Eric's 3.  An alpha strike from Jamie brought Eric to 1.  In a last ditch effort, Eric sent his flyers in and used a Rite of Consumption to get Jamie down to 1.  The attack back by Jamie ended the game.  Parke advances 2-1.

Tyler Mantey vs Jelger Wiegersma

Jelger started off with Puresight Merrow followed by Silkbind Faerie, and then Gravelgill Duo before Mantey made a play.  Falling that far behind, Mantey couldn't recover and Jelger takes the 1-0 lead.  Second game was the complete opposite.  Mantey had Turn 2 Sickle Ripper, Turn 3 Thistledown Duo, and Jelger had no play until a Turn 4 Watchwing Scarecrow.  Some removal from Tyler cleared the way and the match was tied.  Mantey has to double mulligan for the decider.  Both players got out a couple of creatures, one of those being Mistmeadow Witch for Jelger, who was also mana flooded.  With 8 mana allowing double acitivation of the witch a turn and a Silkbind Faerie, Jelger was in complete control and cruised to the win in Game 3.  Jelger Wiegersma advances 2-1.

Jaime Parke vs Gaudenis Vidugiris

Both players had 2/1 creatures on Turn 2 that traded.  Then the board clogged unitl Parke enchanted a Raven's Run Dragoon with Shield of the Oversoul that took Parke to 10.  But a Scuzzback Marauders and Slinking Giant by Gaudenis threatened a lot of damage.  Parke blocked and made the Marauders persist, then used Mercy Killing on the Giant giving Gaudenis 4 1/1's.  As the only non- card in his deck, Parke tried to get back in it by using Firespout to clear the board of all but his Dragoon, with a Grief Tyrant and persisted River Kelpie for Gaudenis.  Gaudenis had Curse of Chains to deal with Dragoon, thus taking Game 1.

Turn 2 Safehold Sentry from Jaime met a Spiteflame Witch from Gaudenis.  Next was a Leech Bonder and Tatterkite from Gaudenis, while Parke sat on the Sentry.  A Scuzzback Marauders by Vidugiris forced Parke to Firespout but a Turn to Mist meant Vidugiris would keep his Leech Bonder and a 4/1 Marauder.  Parke had some removal to give him a couple extra turns, but didn't have any creatures and Vidugiris finished the match with Grief Tyrant.  Gaudenis Vidugiris advances 2-0.

Jelger Wiegersma vs Gaudenis Vidugiris

Going into the finals, Jelger Wiegersma had only lost one match this weekend and that was to Gaudenis Vidugiris.  But Jelger also had a win this weekend against Gaudenis, and they also had an intentional draw.  But that's what happens when two guys spend all weekend at the top of the standings, they tend to meet up a lot, and now they meet in the finals for the fourth time in the tournament.

Congratulations to Jelger Wiegersma, Winner of Grand Prix Indianapolis.

Jelger lead off Game 1 with a Briarberry Cohort and then Mistmeadow Witch which was Scarred by Gaudenis.  But that didn't slow Jelger down as he had Turn 5 Dire Undercurrents, and by now you know what that means...Mega-card-advantage time.  Jelger takes Game 1 with a flood of creatures.  Game 2 saw Jelger start with Puresight Merrow and Silkbind Faerie, but Leech Bonder, Tatterkite, and Tattermunge Duo from Gaudenis were threatening to cause some trouble.  Some bounce from Gaudenis kept Jelger on the back foot until Oona, Queen of the Fae came in to finish off the job and tie the match at 1 game apiece. 

One final game to decide the winner of GP Indy.  Jelger had Turn 2 Puresight Merrow to Gaudenis' Tattermunge Witch.  Jelger looked to apply the Power of Fire to his merrow, but a Turn to Mist fizzled the enchantment.  Jelger had a Plumeveil to take out a Slinking Giant and then started pressuring with a Helm of the Ghastlord-enhanced Wanderbrine Rootcutter that forced a triple block from Gaudenis.  With Gaudenis reeling, Jelger played Mistmeadow Witch with mana to flicker.  A Watchwing Scarecrow put enough damage on the board, and Guadenis was out of answers.  Jelger Wiegersma wins 2-0 to become the Grand Prix Indianapolis Champion, and giving the Netherlands their third GP win of the year.

Before we get to the Player of the Year Race, just a sidenote on the Top 8 draft.  In the 8 maindecks, there were 6 Wisps.  I'm talking about cards in the cycle that include Crimson Wisps. I was surprised to see that those who  played with the Wisps performed much better than those without them.  Jelger was the only Top 8 competitor to win a match without a Wisp, but he had other card draw.  I don't know about you, but these cards have been totally off my radar, yet the Pros have been using them a lot as the 23rd or even 22nd card in the deck to smooth out the draws.  Just something to think about when filling those finals slots of your deck. 

And while we're at it, lets take a look at Jelger Wiegersma GP winning deck:

Jelger's deck is mono   with just a splash of to abuse double Power of Fire with all his untap creatures.  As with most SSS draft decks, it has very little in the way of removal and relies heavily on efficient creatures in the 2, 3, and 4 drop spots.

But the real standout in  his deck was Dire Undercurrents which provided ridiculous amounts of card advantage and won him multiple games in the Top 8.  Of course having the All-Star Mistmeadow Witch helps too. 


The fact that his deck curves out at 5 mana is also very important to the success of triple Shadowmoor draft decks.  There's a lot of mana-intensive activated abilities that you want to be playing in the late game instead of fatties that just don't seem to get it done against all the invasion and unblockable color situations that arise in this format.  I never thought I'd be racing with a  deck, but using the lessons I learned from studying this event, I did exactly that and won my first SSS draft today on MTGO and got myself one of those creepy looking Reaper King Avatars.

I've been drafting since Mirrodin block, and I haven't noticed a format as fast as this one before, so when you have the chance, draft those 2 drops!


Top 20 in the 2008 Player of the Year Standings 
Following Grand Prix Indianapolis

Ranking Player Points
1 Shuuhei Nakamura* 34
2 Jon Finkel* 28
2 Mario Pascoli 28
4 Jan Ruess 27
5 Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 26
6 Charles Gindy* 25
7 Raphael Levy 24
8 Brandon Scheel 22
9 Martin Juza 21
10 Olivier Ruel 20
10 Manuel Bucher 20
10 Marcio Carvalho 20
10 Marijn Lybaert 20
10 Nico Bohny 20
10 Jelger Wiegersma* 20
16 Joel Calafell 19
17 Paul Cheon* 18
17 Robert van Medevoort 18
17 Yuuta Takahashi* 18
17 Mateusz Kopec* 18

* 2008 Event Winner

Player of the Year Race

The updated Player of the Year Race didn't change much this week with many of the big name players participating, but unable to make Day Two at Grand Prix Indianapolis.  The big mover in the Top 20 was winner Jelger Wiegersma, who doubled his point total for the year and moved up into a tie for 10th.


We'll find out who shows up next week in South America to compete in Grand Prix Buenos Aires where the format is standard.  See you next time.





by hamtastic at Tue, 07/01/2008 - 08:52
hamtastic's picture

A very nice breakdown as always.  Thank you for putting it all together like this.  Very nice!

by Pyrosin at Tue, 07/01/2008 - 14:46
Pyrosin's picture

Thanks for the kind words Hammy.