Worlds 2008, two days in

Today was day two of Worlds 2008, and although the Standard portion didn’t bring anything particularly exciting to us, there are some fun stories in terms of who’s doing well — and who isn’t.
Going into this event, Shuhei Nakamura had the player of the year lead, with 67 points. The only plausible competitors down the rest of the list were Olivier Ruel (53 points), Luis Scott-Vargas (50 points), Tomoharu Saito (48 points), and Marcio Carvalho (45 points). Pretty much any scenario that had someone other than Shuhei winning required that Shuhei stumble (getting, say, 2 or 3 points) and the other person do quite well, with the caveat that Marcio and Olivier were both on their national teams and could potentially pick up an additional 6 or so points from a win there.
By the end of day two, here are how our competitors are doing:
Shuhei Namakura – 15 points, 222nd place
Well, that certainly qualifies as a stumble. And the rest?
Olivier Ruel – 28 points, 7th place
Luis Scott-Vargas – 21 points, 74th place
Tomoharu Saito – 9 points, 315th place
Marcio Carvalho – 24 points, 56th place
As for the teams, France is in a non-promising 15th place right now, and Portugal is in a dismal 25th, so there’s not a lot of help there for either Olivier or Marcio. That said, Olivier is doing very, very well, and if he keeps up his current pace, could reasonably hit a top eight. If Shuhei gets 3 points and goes to 70, Olivier would need to finish first or second to take player of the year away from him (if Shuhei gets 2 points, Olivier can tie by making it to the semifinals). I wouldn’t bet on Olivier being a finalist, but who knows? If the French team can somehow pull it together on the last day, Olivier might only need to top eight.
Other fun finishes from day one include Ervin Tormos, who leads the standings at 33 points in what is, I think, his only Pro Tour of this year (and who, if the podcast is to be believed, spent this evening deciding what deck he was going to play for Extended tomorrow). In a close second is Masashi Oiso, who is on track for both another top eight and a solid team finish (he has, apparently, promised to win the team event for Japan).
I’m looking forward to seeing what shows up in Extended tomorrow, given the upcoming GP in Los Angeles and the PTQ season for Honolulu. I expect that we’ll see Elves being properly controlled now that everyone knows to expect it, and as such, there likely won’t be any bannings in the near future.
I will, however, laugh if Dredge does really well.

No more Randy at Wizards?

ICv2 is reporting in this article that the recent digital initiative consolidation at Wizards (that is, binning Gleemax and related ventures) has now led to layoffs among those involved in the defunct digital initiative, including Andrew Finch, William Meyers, Jennifer Paige, and, notably, Randy Buehler.
Other layoffs include Dave Noonan and Jonathan Tweet, who you may not know if you only play Magic, but have both been significant forces in shaping the two most recent versions of D&D.

Lead with Thoughtseize

On Saturday, I played in a Standard tournament at Superstars, using an updated version of Ahura. The update was solely to the sideboard, swapping out one Muse and the Infests for three Hallowed Burial and a Pithing Needle.
In round one, I played against a black-green Elves build and took game one on the back of the ever-helpful Battlegrace Angel, ending the game on 34 life. In addition to that mountain of life gain, I’d been retracing Raven’s Crimes repeatedly to decimate my opponents hand, which certainly motivated his sideboarding for game two.
In game two, my first-turn play was Thoughtseize. I saw this:
Gilt-leaf Palace
Llanowar Wastes
Bramblewood Paragon
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Hm.
My second-turn play was Tidehollow Sculler (or, as I said, “I have a workaround”). I saw this:
Llanowar Wastes
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Hm, again.
I followed that second-turn Sculler with a third-turn Sculler and a fourth-turn Sculler, eventually ending up with three Scullers, each with an associated RFGed Liege.
I found that entire game pleasingly ridiculous.