(Metagame Archive) Pro Circuit San Francisco

By Metagame Staff  

Pro Circuit San Francisco is at an end, and we have our first non-American Pro Circuit Champion!

Englishman Ian Vincent battled through one of the toughest Top 8s in Vs. history with his Checkmate location deck “Deep Green,” after staring down Vidianto Wijaya in the final match. Vidi was hot off his victory at Pro Circuit Atlanta and in his fourth PC Top 8, but Vincent had all the necessary moves to emerge the victor in three straight games. Wijaya has to content himself with the fact that he now has trophies in all four sizes from Pro Circuit Top 8s, and a hefty pile of cash to go with them.

The Silver Age format featured some of the most powerful decks yet in the Pro Circuit, but ultimately, good tech and great play were the determining factors in taking down the big trophy, sending out a strong message to deckbuilders everywhere about the value of good preparation.

Ian Vincent has made the U.K. proud, giving Vs. System its first non-American Pro Circuit Champion. He’ll have a long flight back home, but he’ll bring a huge championship trophy with him, not to mention $40,000 to pad his bank account.

Congratulations to Ian Vincent, Pro Circuit San Francisco 2006 Champion!

Top 8 Decklists


Tim Batow

4 Knight Armor


Kim Caton




Jason Hager




Michael Jacob




Doug Tice




Ian Vincent


4 Knight Armor


Gabe Walls




Vidianto Wijaya





All Decklists!


Pro Circuit Blog

By Ben Seck


6:58 pm: Memory Test


Jamie Tachiyama has made Day 2 of the Pro Circuit. Normally, that wouldn’t be news, but it presents a certain challenge to the judging staff. Jamie is blind, and so drafting Vs. is a tricky proposition. Jamie’s cards are usually marked with Braille for Constructed events, but with Draft using sealed product, it makes it hard to mark all the cards in a draft. To get around this difficulty, tournament organizer Scott Elliot has arranged for Jamie to be seated at a separate table from the normal draft, where a judge will whisper the contents of a pack to him as he gets passed the cards. This still means that Jamie needs to remember the text of every card in the X-Men set, which is no small challenge.

“I pretty much know every card in the set.” Jamie related. “I’ve drafted about four times in Hobby League and I made the Top 8 of a Sealed Pack PCQ, so the strategy of it isn’t foreign to me.”

Jamie is sitting pretty at 7-2 playing a Fate-a-Tron deck of his own design. “I made the deck pretty soon after the set came out and even before the Fate Artifact errata. My deck wasn’t trying to abuse the Artifacts in the same way, so I really didn’t lose much of the strategy. I have a rough time versus some of the weenie decks like X-Faces, but most of the curve matchups are really good.”

Well, good luck, Jamie—you’ve already made it big on the Pro Circuit. I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast, leave alone every card in a pack while blindfolded!

6:23 PM: The King is dead! Long live the . . . oops . . .
Ian Vincent from the United Kingdom was riding high with his Checkmate toolbox deck at 7-1 and was playing Scott Hunstad of Australia in the feature match area. Ian was beating Scott down hard with a combination involving a visible Ahmed Samsarra with a Knight Armor. But on the fourth turn, Scott recruited a Fatality, Flawless Victory. Ian, worried about his King getting KO’d by the Emerald Enemy, decided that the best way to avoid this was to move his King to the hidden area . . . by playing another Ahmed there. 

Scott looked enquiringly at Dave “Hump” Humpherys, wondering if he had missed something. They looked at each other, not sure if something had been missed. But Ian had just had a brain explosion that cost him the match. 

“I was going to lose anyway,” Ian lamented. “I had no real way to get my Ahmed out of the visible area. I was dumb for putting him visible against Villains United. Oh well.” It still probably counts as the worst play of the tournament . . . and we haven’t even finished Day 1!
5:11 PM: For the love of the game . . . and a very considerate wife! 

Ken Edwards of Virginia loves playing Vs. System, and he knew he wanted to go to the Pro Circuit whenever he could. But when he found out it was going to fall on his fifth wedding anniversary, he thought he wouldn’t be able to go. But Ken’s wife Rachel is the most understanding woman I have heard of, and Ken asked me if he could give a shout-out to his fans at home. 

So to Rachel: “I miss you and thanks for the support! Happy anniversary!” I’m sure that if Ken can keep winning, he’ll be able to buy you a nice anniversary gift.


2:53 PM: Top Table Metagame – Five Rounds In

It’s the halfway point on Day 1, and the metagame is shaking out a little more. To give you a better idea of how each deck is going, here are the matchups for the top tables of Pro Circuit San Francisco after 5 rounds.

Table 1: Fate Squad vs. Squadron

Table 2: G’Lock vs. Checkmate Toolbox

Table 3: Checkmate Toolbox vs. Squadron

Table 4: Killing Joke vs. Killing Joke

Table 5: Checkmate Toolbox vs. Killing Joke

Table 6: Fate Squad vs. Fate Squad

Table 7: Killing Joke vs. Fate Squad

Table 8: Villains United Toolbox vs. Fate Squad

Table 9: Injustice Gang Hand-Flood vs. Squad

Table 10: Killing Joke vs Burn (Silver)

By the looks of the top tables, there seem to be three decks that are shaking up the new Silver Age metagame—Squadron, Checkmate Toolbox and “Killing Joke” (the discard-Justice League of Arkham deck). The builds of each deck are vastly different from player to player, and the Squadron decks don’t really look like any previous versions of the deck, with the Fate Artifact engine out in force. What it does show is a reasonable diversity of deck styles from aggro, to combo, to curve-based strategies. It’s hard to guess which deck will end up on top, but it seems that while the Killing Joke is doing well, it did have the most significant showing at the tournament, with over forty players running that strategy.
1:33 PM: Team Alternate Lose Condition 
Shane Wiggans of Team Alternate Win Condition is having a terrific time playing his Checkmate deck. But the last round wasn’t so fun for the Metagame.com writer. His opponent was playing a Villains United aggressive deck and knew he was playing Checkmate. Shane missed his 1- and 2- drops, while his opponent dropped a Dr. Psycho, Mental Giant on turn 2 and a Dr. Light, Furious Flashpoint on turn 3. Shane played his Ahmed Samsarra in the visible area, thinking that he could move him out later with Rook Control or The Science Spire in his row. But Ahmed was team attacked and stunned, and when his opponent showed him the No Mercy in his row, he asked, “Do you have anything?” 

Shane didn’t have a way to team-up to allow him to use Science Spire, nor did he have a Threat Neutralized to stop the “lose the game” trigger from happening. So he just packed up his cards and decided to go for an early lunch. 

“I think I have an advantage over the field now—I’ve had a good long lunch.” Shane smiled. “I don’t feel so bad. There have been twenty-eight games in this field with our deck (the rest of his team is playing it) and Tim [Batow] is 4-0. We haven’t had another loss due to the King trigger, so I’m still pretty happy.” 

Armed with a full belly, I’m sure Shane Wiggans will recover from his quick loss and put his Ahmed into his hidden area a little more often!  

1:21 PM: Curve Sentinels?!

Pro Circuit Atlanta Champion Vidi Wijaya was cruising at 3-0 and thought he had the format all worked out. But in the next round, he saw something that he never thought he’d see in Silver Age. He got Hounds of Ahab locked. His opponent played a turn 2 Midnight Sons naming Sentinels (an affiliation I thought no one was playing in the event), then played a Wild Ride fetching a Hounds of Ahab. From that point on, Vidi’s Squadron deck couldn’t really handle the Marvel Knights powerhouse. Hounds really hasn’t been seen since the time of the purple robot menace, so it certainly was a blast from the past. “What is this,” asked Vidi, “Golden Age a year ago?”
1:05 PM: Lounging Around . . . Pro Style!   
Upper Deck is always trying to improve the quality of life for our players at Pro Circuits, and this event is no different. Apart from the fact that the tournament site is on beautiful San Francisco Bay, they have added a new feature to the event site—the Pro Player Lounge.  

The Pro Player lounge is an exclusive area where Pro Players can relax in between rounds. There they can play a game of Vs. or even some other games, watch a DVD on the big screen TV, or just sitting around and watch the terrific view. Even better is that the area is stocked with plenty of sodas and snacks so that the long, grueling day at the office isn’t too hard on the stomach. I know I wish that I was still playing so that I could take advantage of the facilities. 

I even know some players who wished they had played faster decks; those who finished their round earlier got first shot at the new snacks. Maybe this is a good way to make sure rounds end quickly . . .

11:18 AM: Loose Lips 

One of the most prolific and powerful decks in the format is the Justice League of Arkham discard deck, which has been dubbed “The Killing Joke” by my Metagame.com colleague Tim Willoughby. This deck was A close-kept secret by a number of big pro teams, but as with most secrets, there were a number of leaks; gradually, rumors became whispers, and whispers became discussions, and of course all discussions lead to posts on the forums! This meant that many players prepared for the coming onslaught of discard by packing specific bullets to be searched for via Enemy of my Enemy and Straight to the Grave

Cards as narrow as Sage, Xavier’s Secret Weapon; Black Cat, Master Thief; and even weird cards such as Criminal Mastermind have appeared in decks. Those players who have turned up with the JLArkham should be wary—the secret is out.

9:53 AM: Every Team Has Its Day   
One of the most remarkable statistics of this Pro Circuit is that nearly every major team in the game is being represented. Even teams with no major Silver Age presence (teams from the Origins expansions) have had characters or team-stamped cards appear in decks today, even unaffiliated!
Here’s a list of cards that have turned up in the field: 

X-Men – Archangel, Angel
Brotherhood – Rem-Ram
Doom – Latverian Embassy
Fantastic Four – Franklin Richards, Trapped in Time
Gotham Knights – Huntress, Reluctant Queen
Teen Titans – Roy Harper ◊ Speedy
League of Assassins – Talia, Daughter of Madness
Arkham Inmates – Amadeus Arkham, Architect of Insanity
Deathstroke – Deathstroke the Terminator, Lethal Weapon
Spider-Friends – Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man
Sinister Syndicate – Vermin
Team Superman – Superman, Clark Kent
New Gods – (unconfirmed)
Revenge Squad – Metallo
Darkseid’s Elite – Glorious Godfrey
Marvel Knights – Black Panther, King of Wakanda
Underworld – Mephisto, Soulstealer
Crime Lords – Jester
X-Statix – Coach
Green Lantern – Kyle Rayner, Last Green Lantern
Emerald Enemies – Dr. Light, Master of Holograms
Manhunter – Harlequin (unconfirmed)
Anti-Matter – Anti-Green Lantern
Avengers – Hawkeye, Clinton Barton
Masters of Evil – Beetle, Armorsmith
Thunderbolts – Joystick
Squadron Supreme – Golden Archer, Wyatt McDonald
Kang – Kang, Kang Cobra
JLA – Katar Hol ◊ Hawkman, Thanagarian Enforcer
JLI – Sue Dibny
Injustice Gang – Poison Ivy, Deadly Rose
Secret Society – Deadshot, Floyd Lawton
Hellfire Club – Shinobi Shaw
Morlocks – Leech, Inhibitor
JSA – The Phantom Stranger, Wandering Hero
Shadowpact – Captain Marvel, Champion of Magic
Checkmate – Ahmed Samsarra, White King
Villains United – Fatality, Flawless Victory
Unaffiliated – Professor Ivo 

The no-shows are Sentinels, Negative Zone, Skrulls, Crisis, and Speed Force, none of which fielded a single character or team-stamped card in the tournament. But what that shows is that this is a wide-open format whose variety of cards is unparalleled in Vs. System history. Will there be one strategy that triumphs?
9:00 AM: Welcome to Pro Circuit San Francisco!

It’s PC time, and today, the Pro Circuit arrives for the first time in the beautiful port city of San Francisco. After gorging themselves on a variety of seafood down at the Fisherman’s Wharf, the players are ready for the debut of the newest member of the Vs. family, Silver Age. There are rumors of Turbo “Fate-a-tron” Artifact decks, as well as a less likely contender in the form of Justice League of Arkham. We’ll see soon if the decks live up to the hype. Also, this event marks the Pro Circuit debut of the powerful new Infinite Crisis expansion, which has been billed as the most influential set since Marvel Origins. It’s only a matter of time until we find out what the crisis has revealed to the Vs. pro players of the world.


7:53 PM: Crunch Time 

The final round is underway, and we have four guaranteed Top 8 competitors: Vidi Wijaya, Kim Caton, Gabe Walls, and Tim Batow. Vidi has returned magnificently from his last Pro Circuit win in Atlanta, putting up a record fourth Top 8 today. Kim Caton has made history of her own, becoming the first female player to make a Pro Circuit Top 8 after a very successful career so far. Both of their presences mark an age of dominance by Team FTN. Gabe Walls of the Donkey Club makes a return to the final day of the Pro Circuit after making the Top 8 at the very first PC in ’05. And the final definite is Tim Batow; after making a splash winning a $10K with [My Beloved] in Las Vegas, he is now proudly flying the flag for his team, Team Alternate Win Condition. 

Apart from these guys, there are eight other players who can still make the Top 8. These players include Ian Vincent, Michael Jacob, Doug Tice, Alex Smith, David Leader, Adam Bernstein, Jason Hager, and Anthony Shaheen. In that illustrious group, there are two PC champions and eight (!) $10K titles. This is shaping up to be one of, if not the most, impressive Top 8s in Vs. Pro Circuit history!

6:28 PM: Evolving Mutant Drafts 

Even within a single tournament, Draft strategies can change, and the rumors of how well the Morlocks performed in the first pod may have had an adverse effect on how well they did in the second pod. The big winners have been the Hellfire decks, which seemed to be significantly under-represented in the first pod. X-Men, traditionally shoved off to support role status to the Morlocks, really came into their own in this draft, with multiple players successfully piloting near mono-X-Men decks to undefeated records. 

Pod Player Name Draft 2 Deck
1 Caton, Kim Hellfire one visible
2 Vincent, Ian X-Men rush
3 Walls, Gabe X-Men / Hellfire one visible
4 Gates, Brian Brotherhood / Hellion Reservist
5 Smith, Alex Hellfire
6 Reeves, Neil Hellfire / Mental
7 Barreros, Jose X-Men / Morlocks rush
8 Oldaker, Matt X-Men / Morlocks rush
9 Shaheen, Anthony Brotherhood reservist
10 Fears, Adam X-Men
11 Izsak, Yoel X-Men
12 Dalla Via, Edoardo Morlock rush
13 Carey, Joseph Hellfire one visible


Kim Caton is on a tear today as she attempts to become the first female Vs. player to make a Top 8. Kim, a veteran of the Pro Circuit, played in the inaugural event nearly two years ago. She’s has a range of good finishes at the PC and has made Top 16 multiple times. 

Ian Vincent has played in just a few Vs. PCs and has only really made a splash at the first PC: Indy, where he finished nineteenth with the teched-out English version of the Teen Titans. He is looming as the second Englishman to make the final day of a Pro Circuit. 

The final draft will be tricky, with only Vidi’s spot in the Top 8 looking relatively safe. Stay tuned!

4:15 PM: It’s Their Move 

One of the most prominent teams on the Pro Circuit is easily recognized by the red dragon emblem emblazoned on their chests and backs. It’s the Your Move Games team, who mainly hail from the New England (primarily Boston) area. Lead by storeowner Rob Dougherty, they were able to get all six of their members into the second day, and they are still doing great. As of the end of the fifteenth round, they had a terrific record of fifty-nine wins and thirty-one losses—an average of nearly ten wins per player. Eric Hunter is leading the way with eleven wins; and Anthony Shaheen, Jacob Rabinowitz, Craig Edwards, and Nick Cuenca are at ten wins. Rob is unfortunately languishing a little at eight wins, but he’s more than happy to see his boys excel.  

All but Craig chose to play the “Good Guys” JLA / JLI ally deck yesterday. Craig chose the path less taken with a Checkmate / League of Assassins toolbox deck. It’s very possible that one of the Red Dragons will make the Top 8, and five of them are still in contention. It’s always good to see these guys at the Pro Circuit, as they know not just how to play well, but also how to have a good time!
3:28 PM: Master at Work 

Dean Sohnle has always been considered an eccentric deckbuilder, but his most recent Draft deck goes against one of the most sacred cows of Sealed Pack deckbuilding: playing more than the minimum thirty cards. And he didn’t add just one extra one—Dean is playing with an amazing thirty-three cards! Also, every one of his cards is so amazing that he can actually afford to put such gems as SNIKT! and Kidney Punch into his unplayed pile.

With his thirty-three cards, he is only playing eighteen characters—quite a low number to start with, but even lower when you consider that there are fifteen plot twists and locations in his deck. He expects to filter through his deck with X-Corp: Paris and to take advantage of his Jean Grey, Red. Right now, Dean is sitting pretty at 11-4 (and is 2-0 in the second pod), so he can still make the Top 8 if he wins out (and he has a slight chance of making it with one more loss).
2:23 PM: Traits to the Cause 

For those budding The X-Men drafters out there, here are the winning decks from each pod from the first round of drafting. The big winners seem to be the Morlocks decks, which have a depth of powerful plot twists that encompass the team. Returning champion Vidi Wijaya is powering away; he mauled all comers with his very unusual Blackbird Blue four-team deck, which was held together by a few Team-Ups and three copies of Turnabout. What’s even more surprising is the fact that he ran the Turnabouts with only four X-Men characters! The luck is certainly with Vidi today as he seeks to be the first double Pro Circuit Champ! 

Pod Player Name Draft 1 Deck
1 Wijaya, Vidianto  Blackbird Blue all teams
2 Tice, Doug X-Men / Morlocks
3 Hunter, Eric Brotherhood reservist
4 Heß, Florian Hellfire / X-Men / Energy
5 Jacob, Michael Energy / Mental / Brotherhood / X-Men
6 Bragg, Tillman Morlocks / X-Men / Energy
7 Yapjoco, Patrick Morlocks rush
8 Wiggans, Shane Hellfire one visible
9 French, Michael Morlocks / Energy / Physical
10 Garrlentine, Vincent Morlocks / X-Men
11 Perlas, Carl Brotherhood reservist
12 Keaten, Chase Morlocks / X-Men / Physical
13 Wienburg, Ben Morlocks / Energy / Physical

12:04 PM: It’s a Party and You’re Invited! 

The Pro Circuit isn’t the only thing happening at San Francisco this weekend. Also being held in the same hall is the Yu-Gi-Oh! National championships, where over 355 players from all over the country have arrived to duel for four spots at the World Championships in Japan. The winners also receive Xbox 360s, as well! I think I may go over and play . . .

Also as usual is the $10K event, which features the premier level Sealed Pack debut of the Infinite Crisis set. Most of the players that didn’t make it yesterday are playing in this event, with such luminaries as Dave Spears, Nick Little, and Donnie Noland battling it out with over 200 other competitors. For just playing the $10K, you get the new hotness that is an Extended Art Reign of Terror, and if you’re good enough, a Sebastian Shaw is waiting to join your collection. 

Also, the Pro Circuit competitors received an Extended Art War of Attrition and the long awaited (and mildly disturbing) Varnae

What this means is that if the Pro Circuit comes by your town, you should make the effort to come by; there’s plenty of things to do and plenty of goodies to make your friends jealous!

10:57 AM: Fourth and Inches 

Neil Reeves is known as one of the tightest players on the tour, but unfortunately, sometimes even the best make a few errors. Playing a Hellfire Club deck with four (!) copies of Army of One, Neil had been doing well with his board of Emma Frost, Friend or Foe and Donald Pierce, White Bishop. On turn 7, he had planned to move his Emma Frost, Friend or Foe to the hidden area . . . with his Emma Frost, White Queen. After he played it, his opponent Michael Barnes pointed out that the new Emma Frost would KO the other one due to uniqueness.  

Neil looked sheepishly at me and then asked, “Why didn’t you tell me I had a power-up?!” 

After putting himself in a rough position, he managed to claw his way back into the game—to the point where both he and Michael were at 0 endurance. The problem for Neil was that Michael had an evaded Electric Eve that was ready to put Neil to -1 and thus snatch a victory away from the native son of Arkansas. But Neil had a trick up his sleeve: he moved his Piper to the visible area, snagging Michael’s own Electric Eve and recovering it. In the end, it was Michael who was defeated . . . by his own Electric Eve!
9:17 AM: X-Draft   


At 9 AM, the lucky ninety-nine players who made Day 2 took their seats for the start of what will be nine rounds of The X-Men Draft. Prevailing drafting wisdom says the Morlocks evasion strategy is the best, though a few are predicting that Hellfire Club / one visible or even an X-Men Energy burn deck will be the path to victory. 

Today’s Draft dynamic is made a little different by the presence of Jamie Tachiyama, a blind player playing in today’s action. His table was made separate from the main area so that they could draft at a pace that would allow a judge to read him his picks. 

The top tables are littered with stars. Scott Hunstad, Gabe Walls, Tim Batow, Pro Circuit Atlanta Champion Vidi Wijaya, and Kim Caton are on table 1. Table 2, featuring PC: LA Champion Karl Horn, Michael Dalton, PC: New York Champion Adam Bernstein, triple $10K Winner Doug Tice, and double $10K winner Adam Prosak is equally brutal. 

Will Vidi be able to repeat? He has shunned the traditional return champion curse and is looking to add yet another Top 8 to his resume. But there many accomplished players within striking distance, and they are hungry, as well.

A couple of matches from the event:

(Metagame Archive) Pro Circuit San Francisco Quarterfinals: Ian Vincent vs. Tim Batow
(Metagame Archive) Pro Circuit San Francisco Round 7: Michael Barnes vs. Chuck Bell


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