Jeff Zandi is a five time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events.

Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.

 


 

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Fort Worth Showdown
First of Two Texas Team PTQs Controlled by Home Team
by Jeff Zandi
1.16.05


Last Saturday, Texas Magic players got back into the game with a Team Sealed Pro Tour Qualifier in the downtown Fort Worth Convention Center. Sixteen teams showed up to compete in the Aussiefox event run by level II judge Jim Shuman, his wife Dianne, and two up and coming judges James Medina and Jeffrey Haskovec. The turnout was smaller than expected, the tournament space set up for more than twice that number, but the tournament was well-run and represented most of the best players in the state. After six rounds of Swiss, it was Fort Worth’s own Andy Van Zandt, Herman Armstrong and Mitchell Waldbauer sitting on top of the heap as the only undefeated team. Herman Armstrong qualified for last year’s Pro Tour Columbus and performed very well, finishing in the money in his first Pro Tour appearance. In the semi-final round, Herman’s team, Fully Reinstated, defeated Green Cross, a team with a couple of notable players including Ronnie Jones (who also finished in the money at Pro Tour Columbus) and Texas Guildmage Zach Karthauser. Preparing for a finals Rochester draft against a talented Super Troopers team made up of Bryan Bambenek, Steven Livingston and Jon Block, the Fort Worth team decided to rest on their undefeated laurels and drop. The situation was a win-win, allowing Bambenek, Livingston and Block to qualify for Pro Tour Atlanta while Fort Worth’s Armstrong, Van Zandt and Waldbauer to probably qualify for Atlanta on points (their team has played together several times). The complete card list for Fully Reinstated and Super Troopers appears at the end of this article.

Big time Magic continues in Texas tomorrow with another Team Sealed PTQ for Pro Tour Atlanta in Houston at Midnight Comics. This will be the last team PTQ in Texas of the season. A week from tomorrow, Betrayers of Kamigawa pre-releases will take place in several venues around the state. The Fort Worth Convention Center used for last Saturday’s Team PTQ will host the North Texas pre-release event.

My team, Destroy All Islands, received what we thought was a very nice pile of cards. Jonathan Pechon and Jason Krysak, who have played together on two Pro Tour teams, took me under their wing in their search for a third team pro tour. After getting rubbed out in the first two rounds, we were forced to deal with the reality that maybe our decks weren’t all THAT great after all. The notable doubles and triples in our pile of cards included two each Kami of Ancient Law, Mothrider Samurai, Consuming Vortex, Honden of Seeing Winds, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Befoul, Devouring Greed and Blind with Anger, good triples included Hearth Kami, Rend Flesh, Orochi Sustainer and Moss Kami. We put all the good green in one deck with two of the Rend Flesh, Pull Under and Soulless Revival. This was my deck. The rest of the black and all of the red went into Jonathan Pechon’s deck. This left Mr. Krysak with the most challenging of our decks, the blue/white. Still, he had Kabuto Moth, a number of decent Samurai and TWO Honden of Seeing Winds. It was still the weakest of our three decks, or so we thought. After absorbing two losses and a rapid exit from the tournament, we walked around downtown Fort Worth and commiserated over some fancy-pants sandwiches. After laying on our backs and describing to each other what we thought the clouds looked like (we didn’t really do this) we figured out that we were being too hard on ourselves and also gave too much credit to our cards. The two teams we lost to were very good, we lost to Van Zandt, Armstrong and Waldbauer just like EVERYONE ELSE DID who played them today, so we agreed we shouldn’t cry about that one. In the second round, we lost to the sixth place finishing Puppet Shoes featuring the super talented Haibing Hu and Aaron Rzepka and Aaron’s friend Ryan Greene (who had to correct me on the play of quite a few of my own cards…YIKES!). Also, our decks weren’t that great; the green/black deck was a little slow and ran FOUR six casting cost spells, the red/black didn’t have the kind of speedy removal that a fast RB deck really needs in this format, and the blue/white deck didn’t have the Cage of Hands cards that it needed. Forget about the rares and even the uncommons, to win in this format, your team’s pile of cards really needs to have several copies of the most important commons in order to succeed. That means Glacial Ray in red, Kodama’s Might in green, Cage of Hands in White and plenty of Rend Flesh/Rend Spirit cards in black.

FULLY REINSTATED – TEAM SEALED DECKLISTS 7-0 for the day

Talking to these boys after the tournament at this great Szechuan restaurant off Camp Bowie just a few miles west on I-30 from downtown, I learned a lot about the decision making they used to arrive at the three decks that took them to ANOTHER Team Sealed final. First of all, they nearly went with the unlikely trio of a green/white deck, a blue/red deck and a mono black deck.
Quickly enough, according to Herman, it was determined that blue was so thin that it was paired with red right away. This decision was immediately rock solid. In making the decision to split their black cards between two decks, they chose to put the fastest black cards into the white deck and the slowest black cards into the green deck to give it some late game power.
During the day, the team learned that the white/black deck played by Herman was the best deck, followed closely by the blue/red deck played by Mitchell.
Andy played the black/green deck, which Andy described as playing better
(re: luckier) than expected.

Andy Van Zandt – Player A
Forest x8
Swamp x9
Befoul
He Who Hungers
Hideous Laughter
Kami of the Waning Moon
Nezumi Graverobber
Scuttling Death x2
Swallowing Plague
Feral Deceiver
Hana Kami
Humble Budoka x2
Kami of the Hunt x2
Kodama’s Might x2
Matsu-Tribe Decoy
Order of the Sacred Bell x2
Orochi Eggwatcher
Orochi Ranger
Serpent Skin
SIDEBOARD:
Pinecrest Ridge
Tranquil Garden
Honor-Worn Shaaku
Konda’s Banner
Reito Lantern
Sensei’s Diving Top
Devouring Greed
Painwracker oni
Pull Under
Rag Dealer
Soulless Revival
Villainous Ogre x2
Waking Nightmare
Akki Avalanchers x2
Devouring Rage
Sideswipe
Gale Force
Glimpse of Nature
Kami of the Hunt
Lure
Order of the Sacred Bell x2
Orochi Leafcaller x3
Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Serpent Skin x2
Venerable Kumo
Vine Kami

Mitchell Waldbauer – Player B
Island x8
Mountain x7
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Consuming Vortex
Counsel of the Soratami
Reach Through Mists x4
Soratami Mirror-Guard x2
Soratami Rainshaper
Soratami Savant x2
Brutal Deceiver
Ember-Fist Zubera
Glacial Ray
Hearth Kami x5
Kami of Fire’s Roar
Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Pain Kami
Yamabushi’s Flame
SIDEBOARD:
Callous Deceiver
Eye of Nowhere
Field of Reality
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Lifted by Clouds x3
Myojin of Seeing Winds
Psychic Puppetry
Reweave
Thoughtbind
Akki Rockspeaker
Battle-Mad Ronin
Desperate Ritual
Initiate of Blood
Kumano’s Pupils
Sideswipe
Stone Rain
Tide of War

Herman Armstrong – Player C
Plains x9
Swamp x8
Blessed Breath
Cage of Hands x2
Candles’ Glow
Ghostly Prison
Hundred-Talon Kami
Innocence Kami
Kabuto Moth x3
Kami of the Palace Fields
Kitsune Blademaster
Mothrider Samurai
Otherworldly Journey
Sensei Golden-Tail
Gibbering Kami
Nezumi Cutthroat x3
Nezumi Graverobber
Nezumi Ronin x2
Rend Spirit
SIDEBOARD:
Cloudcrest Lake
Hankyu
Blessed Breath
Devoted Retainer x2
Harsh Deceiver
Kitsune Diviner x2
Pious Kitsune x2
Silent-Chant Zubera
Terashi’s Cry
Cursed Ronin
Deathcurse Ogre
Oni Possession
Ragged Veins
Soulless Revival
Struggle for Sanity

SUPER TROOPERS – TEAM SEALED DECKLISTS
5-2 for the day

Brian Bambenek – Player A
Forest x7
Plains x8
Swamp x2
Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
Blessed Breath
Ghostly Prison
Hundred-Talon Kami
Kabuto Moth x2
Kitsune Blademaster
Mothrider Samurai x2
Reciprocate
Samurai Enforcers
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Sensei Golden-Tail
Pull Under
Burr Grafter
Kashi-Tribe Reaver
Kodama of the North Tree
Kodama’s Might
Matsu-Tribe Decoy
Orochi Ranger
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Serpent Skin x2
SIDEBOARD:
Blessed Breath
Bushi Tenderfoot
Call to Glory
Cleanfall
Devoted Retainer x2
Ethereal Haze
Kami of the Painted Road
Kami of the Palace Fields
Kitsune Healer
Kitsune Riftwalker
Pious Kitsune x2
Quiet Purity x3
Vigilance
Soulless Revival
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Burr Grafter
Commune with Nature
Dosan the Falling Leaf
Dripping-Tongue Zubera
Feast of Worms
Feral Deceiver
Humble Budoka x2
Joyous Respite x2
Moss Kami
Orbweaver Kumo
Order of the Sacred Bell
Orochi Eggwatcher
Orochi Leafcaller
Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Soilshaper
Vine Kami
Wear Away

Steven Livingston – Player B
Island x9
Mountain x8
Callous Deceiver x2
Consuming Vortex
Eye of Nowhere x2
Jushi Apprentice
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Mystic Restraints x2
Reach Through Mists
River Kaijin
Sire of the Storm
Soratami Mirror-Guard
Soratami Rainshaper
Soratami Savant
Soratami Seer
Uyo, Silent Prophet
Ember-Fist Zubera x2
Glacial Ray x2
Hearth Kami
Lava Spike
SIDEBOARD:
Counsel of the Soratami
Cut the Tethers x2
Field of Reality
Floating-Dream Zubera
Hisoka’s Defiance x3 this deck was not interested in counterspells in
game one!
Hisoka’s Guard
Lifted by Clouds x2
Reweave
Soratami Seer
Thoughtbind
Wandering Ones x2
Sideswipe
Yamabushi’s Storm

Jon Block – Player C
Ashen-Skin Zubera x2
Devouring Greed
Gibbering Kami x2
Hideous Laughter
Kami of the Waning Moon
Nezumi Cutthroat
Nezumi Ronin
Rend Flesh
Scuttling Death
Thief of Hope
Wicked Akuba x2
Devouring Rage
Kami of Fire’s Roar
Ronin Houndmaster x2
Uncontrollable Anger
Unearthly Blizzard
Yamabushi’s Flame x2
SIDEBOARD:
Cloudcrest Lake
Hankyu
Konda’s Banner
Nine-Ringed Bo
Tenza, Godo’s Maul
Bloodthirsty Ogre
Distress
Night of Souls’ Betrayal
Oni Possession
Rag Dealer x2
Struggle for Sanity
Waking Nightmare
Akki Avalanchers
Akki Rockspeaker
Akki Underminer
Desperate Ritual
Devouring Rage
Kumano’s Pupils
Sokenzan Bruiser
Soul of Magma
Strange Inversion
Through the Breach

In the end, Super Troopers didn’t really have that much over the rest of the competition, at least in results and apparently in card quality. Basically this tournament consisted of the three Fort Worth guys and their three surprisingly tight decks, and then the rest of the field. Fully Reinstated, the Fort Worth team, finished the Swiss rounds 6-0, while Super Troopers and three other teams (not that many teams were still in the tournament for round six, mind you…) finished 4-2, and the sixth place team, Puppet Shoes, was the only other team with a winning record in the Swiss rounds, finishing 3-2-1.

Part of the fun of Team Sealed is creating a fun team name. Here are all sixteen of the teams that played in Fort Worth and the players on those
teams:

1…2…Brent Kaskel with Nick Pavlov, Brent Kaskel and Caleb Senbayrak A Tribute to Burt Jones with Jeff Meyerson, Mark Hendrickson and Patrick Lynch AECN with Patrick Todd, David Solis and Taylor Webb Cocheebatog with Eric Honeycutt, Nathan Zamora and William Hagadorn Destroy All Islands with Jeff Zandi, Jonathan Pechon and Jason H.
Tap-Dancing Krysak
GOD with Richard Beard, Jeff Stone and Kraig Bolds Fully Reinstated with Andy Van Zandt, Mitchell Waldbauer and Herman Armstrong Green Cross with Zach Karthauser, Ronnie Jones and Sherman Duncan Human Off Switch with Nick Hansen, Tracie Jenkins and Matthew Dupre Killroy with Douglas Effler, Scott Barrentine and Chris Block Lotus White with John Freitas, Will Bologna and Jody Keith No Homers with Chris Connelly, Steven Bruce and Matt Massenberg Puppet Shoes with Ryan Greene, Haibing Hu and Aaron Rzepka Spitfire Combustion with Jeff Fenstermaker, David Broaddus and Jeremy Fernandez Super Troopers with Bryan Bambenek, Steven Livingston and Jon Block Team Scoop Phase with Tommy Richardson, John Varner and Daniel Robinson

Yeah! I listed every player’s name! I bet a lot of them didn’t figure THAT would happen! Law enforcement agencies…if any of these gentlemen are on your lists, I can tell you where they were all day last Saturday. The rest is up to you.

One last bit of drama…the two guys I played with today (and hopefully will play with again tomorrow in Houston) qualified twice in the past three years, once with Waco game store owner DeQuan Watson and once with Jon Block, who qualified at this tournament with ANOTHER team, the Super Troopers.

What the heck, since this week’s article has basically been a tournament report, why not bring back the old standard practice of listing PROPS and SLOPS, identifying the good and bad things that were in evidence at this pro tour qualifier. PROPS to Zach “Ultimate Hat” Karthauser for returning to big-time tournament Magic with a really good performance. After two rounds, he was excitedly telling people how he hadn’t yet lost a single game! Good for you, Zachy! That kid’s a Guildmage, y’know! Big props to the two teams in the finals for their gentlemanly and sportsmanly discussion at the end of the day. Props to Aussiefox in general and Jim Shuman specifically for putting this event is such a roomy, grand location. SLOPS to all the Magic players who didn’t get out for this event. It’s not THAT hard to find a team to play with, you can always get a team put together at the event itself, and Atlanta is an unusually close Pro Tour location for Texas players. Slops (but just a tiny bit) for a giant place like Fort Worth Convention Center not having good water facilities, working concession stands or at least some vending machines, the only bad thing about the great location.

As always, I’m interested in what YOU think!

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
jeffzandi@thoughtcastle.com
Zanman on Magic Online



 

 

 

 

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