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2011 World Championships, Day 1

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This Worlds event is the second Worlds which I have attended. The first being Worlds 2007 in NYC. That event holds a lot of great memories as it occurred in the earliest days of ManaNation, and was one of the first big trips I took with Katie, my wife. But I have to say, after just one day here at Worlds San Francisco, this one will be an event to remember.

Getting to Worlds

I got to Worlds yesterday, arriving on an early non-stop flight around 10am Pacific. Given my early arrival, I ended up relaxing in the lobby of the hotel until the room was ready. But the time wasn't wasted, I ended up birding a six man draft between Brian David-Marshall, Rashad (GGsLive), Steve Sadin, Craig (Pro tour photographer), Erik Lauer (R&D, Lead Developer for Innistrad), and Aaron Forsythe. Not a bad way to pass the time.

My travel tails are not nearly as interesting as those of Evan Erwin, who had to race for the final flight from Roanoke to get to Worlds. Had his flight ended up cancelled, he was likely going to be locked out as the airline was completely booked after that. Could have been awkward but the universe prevailed and he arrived.

I will say though, one way to avoid jet lag or issues with time zones. Simply skip sleeping one night, and then pass out when appropriate in your new timezone. Seems to have worked perfectly for me.

Day 1

I awoke with a start, terrified I had overslept. I knew instinctively that my sleep had been quite deep and feared I had missed the alarm. Thankfully I had instead woken up on Eastern Time and was a few hours ahead of the alarm. But I was fully rested and ready to tackle the day.

I was excited to get down to the event hall to see the opening ceremonies, as well as the induction of the new Hall of Fame members. There is a danger with this sort of ceremony that it might be corny, the idea of a flag procession is one which is utterly serious such that if it isn't done in a way that follows that seriousness and earnestness, then it will easily fall to the absurd and comical.

This was done with the necessary earnestness and seriousness that I couldn't help but get chills as I watched the flags process with Scott Larabee's voice calling out each of the represented nations and territories.

After the procession was the induction of three more members for the Hall of Fame. I am happy to say all three inductees were present on my ballot this year, each utterly deserving of the honor. From Steve O'Mahoney-Schwarz's sea blue shirt suit, to Shuhei Nakamura's traditional Japanese attire, they each looked sharp and humbled by the ovations the present crowd gave them. What a magical moment for a community to come together and recognize you in a formal way as one of the best to ever play the game. Just wow.

With that, the opening ceremonies concluded and we were only a short time away from the beginning of the final Worlds championship in its current form. My role at this Worlds is slightly different than at previous events. Where normally I sit down and interview Pros, talk to members of R&D on camera, and other such ways. This event is more about integrating Adam Styborski into the process, making introductions, and of course hunting for new talent that's out there.

Today I did a fair bit of networking, including hooking Rich Castle (Inside the Deck) up with Adam, so that Adam could do some interviewing for Rich. A partnership which I think may border on diabolical for its potential awesomeness.

I spent a good amount of time talking to Wizards employees, from Mark Rosewater to Mark Globus to Mark Purvis and Mark Hamill...

I also spent a fair amount of time watching Pros play Magic. And, every single time I realize how bad I am at playing this game.

Round 2 - Patrick Chapin vs Rob Dougherty

Chapin's deck is a very fun URB(g) "Good Stuff"/"Answers" deck. Dougherty is playing Tempered Steel. Game one has gone back and forth and they reached a sort of stale situation, Rob has two O-Rings for Chapin's Olivia Voldaren and Wurmcoil Engine and I think eight lands. Chapin has landed a Liliana of the Veil and manages to get it to Ultimate. He thinks for a few seconds and says, "Your piles are two Oblivion Rings or everything else."

Oof. Ouch.

It's the right split, afterwards I was thinking about it and wondering why not do an even split of half land + Oblivion Ring, thus guaranteeing he gets either Wurmcoil or Olivia. I asked him about it later and he pointed out that while it gained him one definite offensive threat, it also leaves Rob a bigger window to get back into the game. If he top decks an Oblivion Ring then he's back in a manageable position, whereas an Armageddon effect is just devastating.

It says a lot about the pro mindset that Rob didn't just concede there. He chose to Armageddon himself as it was the option which, while horrible, left him the better opportunity to come back. He failed to do so unfortunately, but it was still one of those fascinating game scenarios which I watched with interest.

Hall of Famers in Attendance

Given the feeling by many players that this Worlds is special as it is the last Worlds before the system changes to the new 16 player event, I noticed a high frequency of Hall of Fame members present. Here is the list:

  • Jon Finkel
  • Darwin Kastle
  • Alan Comer
  • Bob Maher
  • Raphael Levy
  • Rob Dougherty
  • Frank Karsten
  • Gabriel Nassif
  • Brian Kibler
  • Bram Snepvangers
  • Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz
  • Anton Jonsson
  • Shuhei Nakamura

What's Next

Today we got to see Standard at its finest, bringing Tempered Steel back into the limelight as the Channel Fireball crew battle with it at the highest levels. Will it be the deck to win the Top 8 or will another deck prove victorious? I eagerly await Saturday and the Modern rounds as that is the format that is least known and the most likely to bring a new series of surprises.

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