Draft #2: Ben Romig
Ben Romig is a rookie on the pro tour circuit this year, but has shown himself to be a solid performer. Winner of the Texas regionals with a very solid build of counter-rebels, he put himself into a solid position at 2-1 going into the second draft. He ended up sitting down at a pretty nice table, with notables such as Matt Linde and Ben Rubin sitting across from him. Eventual top-8 competitor Alex Borteh was seated to his right, while Richard Shay was seated to his left. Sitting in the fourth seat is an optimal starting point, by many opinions, but the cards still have to fall well for you.
The first pack opened contained a whole flurry of powerful cards, including a Thunderscape Master, Angel of Mercy, Thornscape Apprentice, Nomadic Elf, Tower Drake, Hooded Kavu. The Master, Angel, and Apprentice went quickly. Alex picked the Nomadic Elf to Ben's right; not wanting to get cut off, Ben took the Hooded Kavu, leaving the Tower Drake for Richard. The next pack gave Alex a Kavu Climber, forcing Ben further into R/B by giving him a Duskwalker; Richard commited further into B/W with a Faerie Squadron, though he ended up taking two inconsequential black cards on the return. The next two picks for Ben seemed to be precursors of good things: he picked an Andradite Leech, while Alex got an Angel of Mercy, and then Romig followed that up with an Agonizing Demise. However, over the *next* three packs, things began to look down. While Ben picked things like Phyrexian Slayer and Zap, Alex to his right started leaning into red, picking up a Fires of Yavimaya and a Kavu Runner, while Richard completed the squeeze, falling into black by drafting a Recoil and a Vodalian Zombie. This would put the serious squeeze on Ben through the rest of the draft.
As the packs turned around, Ben started out picking up a Shivan Zombie, an Exotic Curse, and a Soul Burn; however, this didn't stack up next to Richard drafting his *second* Zanam Djinn and a Tsabo's Assassin, while Alex went about picking up respectable cards like Llanowar Knight and Pincer Spider. In the thirteenth pack, Ben got to first-pick a Shivan Emissary, passing a Trapper to Alex. However, he saw little else of use for the next few packs, a grey ogre or two and a Firescreamer. The second round of packs had been much more beneficial to his neighbors, Alex picking up a Charging Troll, an Explosive Growth, and a Shackles in addition to the Trapper and other quality creatures.
Ben's first pick out of the first Planeshift pack was a Bog Down, Alex grabbing a Death Bomb from him for some reason. The next two packs had to be dissapointing, though: while Ben did grab a Lava Zombie and a Nightscape Familiar, Alex grabbed a pair of Magma Bursts from in front of him! His pack gave him only a Volcano Imp. You know your wheel is bad when the only marginally playable card is a Mogg Sentry, and the next pick of Morgue Toad was not much better. A Slingshot Goblin had been available, but was drafted by Borteh. The last two packs did give Ben a pair of Sinister Strength's, but that just couldn't offset the opportunities that had not materialized for him.
In speaking after the draft, Ben related that he hadn't intended to go into R/B at all. Originally, he had desired to draft a G/W or U/W deck. However, the packs just fell poorly for him, and he was fairly pushed into R/B by the first picks ahead of him. Both people on either side of him drafted into his colors at the right times, severely weakening his deck and making theirs stronger in the process. However, he still felt fairly confident, believing that he could put together a 2-1 performance with this deck.
1 Phyrexian Slayer