by Tony Wootton
Sixty-eight players, emerged on the Brookfield St Bridge club on Saturday hoping to be crowned 2005 Waikato Open Champion and after 7 grueling rounds and a single elimination Top 8 one was found.
Along with a large contingent of dominant local players, and a handful from Auckland, Tauranga & Rotorua, came an array of deck types and after seven rounds of Swiss the Top 8 was as follows:
1. Eliot Graham (Hamilton) - Tooth & Nail
2. Twinny Dusterwald (Hamilton) - Ponza
3. Bradley Campbell (Hamilton) - MUC (Mono Blue Control)
4. Eric Jarm (Auckland) - MUC
5. Karl Vinnicombe (Hamilton) - Ponza
6. Josh Tutaki (Hamilton) - Beaconless Beacon (5CG)
7. Alvin Liew (Hamilton) - GB Deathcloud
8. Scott Couchman (Hamilton) - Red Deck Wins (or in this case doesn't win the Open)
With Eric Jarm from Auckland the only player able to stop a clean sweep to Hamilton it was apparent that the chances of the Trophies going north of the Bombays was remote at best.
I have noticed a marked improvement in the game play of many of the Hamiltonians and this has certainly been reflected in the results of a number of PTQs, Regionals and other higher level tournaments over the past year or so. Saturday was no exception with the locals bringing on their "A" game and showing that they aren't the scrubs they were a few years ago (You just have to work on your deck-lists and making sure they are correct).
The quarterfinals saw Eliot beating last year's open winner Scott in a tense battle, while Eric needed the 5th turn of extra time to dispose of Karl in another exciting quarterfinal.
The other two saw Josh beating Brad & Twinny beating Alvin.
The semis were also rife with nail-biting and toe-tapping excitement with Eliot finishing off the hopes of the 1.3 million (who live in the Northern suburbs of Hamilton) that the trophy was going north of the Bombays when he disposed of Eric in a closely fought match. Josh was able to do the same to Twinny and it set-up an exciting battle which proved to not be a disappointment and saw Josh persecute his way to victory and the box & trophy.
2005 Waikato Open Champion - Josh Tutaki (Ham) (5CG)
2005 Junior Champion - Eliot Graham (Ham) (Tooth & N)
2005 Top Master (40+) - Twinny Dusterwald (Ham) (Ponza)
Congratulations to you all and onya for doing us proud!
After many hours of addition, subtraction and re-reading the deck lists, the breakdown of deck types were as follows:
9 x WW
9 x UG Control
7 x GB (2 with Deathcloud)
7 x Tooth & Nail
7 x RG Beats/Spirits
7 x Mono Blue Control/ Turbo Magpie
5 x Ponza
4 x MBC
3 x Red Deck Wins
3 x 5CG/4CG (2 being Beaconless Beacon)
3 x G Stompy
1 x UW Control
1 x Proteus Belch
1 x GW
1 x UB Ninja
As an aside to the usual deck type compilation it was noticeable that a number of individual cards were being played by a majority of decks. To further that I decided to do a break down of certain prevalent cards played in decks. Judge for yourself but I feel it makes quite interesting reading.
Sakura Tribe Elder
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sword of Fire & Ice
Genjus (all colours)
Shoals (all colours)
* Numbers in bold are from top 8 decklists
* Percentages taken from 68 decks total
As seen by the table above a large number of players tapped into the power of the green cards and have realised that the mana fixing of cards like the Elder and the Reach as well as the deck manipulation of the Divining Top were too good to surpass. With nearly half of the field playing some or all of the aforementioned trio, games often became a race for who got off the first Reach or Top and subsequently with the extra land etc was frequently able to take the win.
Another favourite from the players was the obvious Eternal Witness (48%) which doubles a players maximum card allowance allowing them to often recur that much needed “silver bullet” at the most opportune time. Other cards with a quarter stake of deck inclusion were the ability packed equipment, Sword of Fire & Ice, and yet another powerful green card in the form of Plow Under.
Following close behind these cards were Meloku, who can win change a creature stall into a late game swarm and another mana fixer in Chrome Mox both being played by 24% of the field. The last two prevalent cards to be included in 18% of the decks were Blinkmoth Nexus and Cranial Extraction, which was played evenly in both the main and sideboard of the decks that used it.
It is not surprising that a third of the decks played green with all the powerful and useful green cards that are available in this format at present. Also, cards like Cranial Extraction & Meloku were able to be splashed in decks that weren’t playing blue or black as their primary colours due to their one colour casting cost.
Surprisingly the biggest omission (or lack of admission) from the deck lists was the Shoals especially the Red, White & Black ones with only six decks playing them (2 white, 3 black & 1 green…..yes that’s right, 1 x green!). I believe that the three coloured shoals I mentioned are some of the strongest cards in the Betrayers set and the standard format. Either players haven’t caught on to how good they are or it was a case of them not being able to secure them for the Open.
Another set of cards I expected to see more of but didn’t was the Genjus. I rate 4 of the five as quite playable with only the black one as an exclusion. The blue genju (3/2 flyer) is a bigger brother to Faerie Conclave and we all remember how much that was played in MUC (mono blue control) in the years past. The red one (6/1) is a mini ball lightning without the trample, alas, and with the right creature control like Shock, Magma Jet, Yamabushi’s Flame etc could wreak a lot of damage on a unsuspecting opponent. The green (4/4) and white (2/5 with spirit link which can be activated multiple times) each fit well in their respective colour decks and should see future play as well. Unfortunately, the R&D team cocked up with the black one as it is simply too mana intensive. Had it been a 2/2 with regeneration it may have seen more play but for now it is useful as a coaster for those evenings of wine & song.
One reason the Genjus may not have been played as much as expected may have been due to the traps that some players lined up for them in the form of Eradicate. It is quite nasty having all your lands, bar a couple, being removed from the game. The best way to not let that happen is …..if your opponent is playing black and has 4 mana spare DON”T ANIMATE YOUR GENJU IN HIS TURN. Eradicate is a sorcery so it won’t effect your turn and your attacks. There is a similar nasty combo with Eradicate and Soilshaper but I will let you work that out.
Anyway, with the Regionals and Nats coming up, hopefully this Tournament Report and deck analysis will help those who are either stuck for a deck design or are looking to tweak their existing one in line with the current metagame. Either way I am sure there is at least a snippet of info in the previous paragraphs that will enhance your design, play or both.
And back to the Waikato Open……..
The only downside of the day was the time needed to hand out the numerous penalties for improper deck lists and the number there of. I was quite stunned that so many experienced players had written their deck lists out incorrectly. It pays to tally up your deck & sideboard and make sure that it is congruent with your list. There is nothing worse than having built a kickass deck that is sure to beat all comers only to miss the Top 8 due to a match loss for a illegal main deck list. Unfortunately at REL 3 (Rules Enforcement Level 3) or above there is no sympathy for such an error and it could cost you you hopes and aspirations for the day.
So please, in future, take more time when doing your deck list and check it once you have finished.
On a brighter note, thanks to all the players who attended (especially those from out of town) and helped make it a successful event and also to all those who helped me with judging, setting up, doing the food & cleaning and tidying up afterwards. Thanks very much, I really do appreciate it!
And until the Waikato Open 2006 may your games be good and mana screws little!
T.O. Waikato Open