Day 1 Coverage of Grand Prix Richmond

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The letter W!ow. So these 4,300 players have been winnowed down greatly—to 443 to be exact. It was a long haul, broken into three separate flights, even into separate halls, but the first day of Grand Prix Richmond is in the books! Tomorrow the groups combine and the best of the best will converge for six more rounds of Modern goodness before cutting to the Top 8.

Sitting atop the standings are Ben Friedman, Andrew Calderon, Noah Walker, Zach Jesse, Jonathon Chappell, Patrick Dickmann, Daryl Ayers, Ian Ayal, Mario Martinez, Jeff Folinus, and William Aitken. They are all undefeated (and true undefeated, none of that 8-0-1 horse-hockey).

Modern has shown us that a variety of archetypes are viable—from Melira Pod to Scapeshift to 4c Gifts to Battle of Wits (ok, fine, the Battle of Wits decks didn't do very well)—but which ones truly deserve to be top of the heap? We'll find out tomorrow, and quite early because we'll be springing ahead at 2 am.

Come back bright and early tomorrow! The stream starts at 9 a.m.

See you tomorrow!


  • Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists

    by Adam Styborski

  • Taylor Kaiser – Modern – Hexproof Auras
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    James Cady – UWR Splinter Twin
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    Vipin Chackoral – Affinity
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    Douglas Henderson – GR Tron
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    Kristopher Akhavein – BW Tokens
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    Jake Robbins - Affinity
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist

    Oliver Tomajko – UW Control
    Grand Prix Richmond Trial Winning Decklist


  • Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – Doing Your Modern Homework

    by Adam Styborski

  • What is the Modern format?

    The run up and through Pro Tour Born of the Gods two weeks ago provided a rich repository of Modern information to digest. The pillars of the format – card combos and interactions, typical decks, and unexpected diversity – are all requisite reading for a player fighting or following Grand Prix Richmond.

    A Completely Incomplete Guide to Modern Madness

    At Pro Tour Born of the Gods, several key interactions were highlighted by coverage thanks to the folks in R&D (featured in this Arcana). How key cards play a role in the decks at large is something you at home might want to keep handy throughout the weekend as it's exactly what the best at Modern know forwards and backwards.

    Blood Moon made a splash in Blue Moon deck featured by team MTG Mint Card at the Pro Tour, and the mana-stifling power of the three mana enchantment has to be on the minds of players this weekend. Most Modern decks rely on powerful nonbasic lands, such as Steam Vents and Overgrown Tomb as well as others like Misty Rainforest that can search them out, to consistently cast whatever spell they want.

    Blue Moon – Lee Shi-Tan
    Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    Blood Moon puts a damper on others by "fixing" their lands as Mountains. While decks with enough basic lands, such as the new Blue Moon deck itself, can continue with their plan anyone aiming for three or more colors quickly finds the token basic land or two (typically included for Path to Exiles) is now a liability: One or two copies is very tough to draw when they're your only hope, and it's part of why the expected resurgence of Zoo decks (featuring the newly unleashed Wild Nacatl) fell flat throughout the Pro Tour.

    Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker lays claim to two of the top decks of Modern: Splinter Twin (and all its blue-red, white-red, and white-blue-red flavors) and Kiki Pod, the amalgam of Birthing Pod with the combo tools of Splinter Twin decks. The legendary Goblin is feared for his talents at copying Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, Restoration Angel, and the occasional Village Bell-Ringer, and provides a haste-based way to achieve what Splinter Twin might need an extra turn for. He might not be the biggest component, but it's valuable redundancy for one of the most consistent combos in the format.

    UR Splinter Twin – Anssi Alkio
    Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    WUR Splinter Twin – Tim Rivera
    Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    Joining Kiki-Jiki with Birthing Pod creates new possibilities:

    All of that is in addition to the "End of turn, Pestermite? Untap, draw, Kiki-Jiki?" play that ends so many other matches.

    Without Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Birthing Pod is a more than a formidable foe in its own right thanks to Melira, Sylvok Outcast and a coterie of creatures with persist, such as Murderous Redcap and Kitchen Finks. With a sacrifice outlet handy alongside Melira, Birthing Pod gets to play both sides of the coin: Pressure opponents with interchangable combo pieces or pull out the precise disruption required to stop an opponent cold.

    Like Splinter Twin, the deck can threaten its combos from numerous positions. Unlike Splinter Twin, Melira Pod can also hit its combo naturally, without Birthing Pod to pull out the right pieces, and simply beat an opponent down with harder-to-kill creatures. Opponents have to choose carefully between fighting the onslaught on the ground and waiting to prevent a combo from occurring.

    Michael Hetrick went undefeated on the first day of Pro Tour Born of the Gods playing a Living End deck, a surprise for many that overlooked the power of cards like Monstrous Carabid and Violent Outburst. The combo nature of Living End may lead one to believe that cards such as Rest in Peace are enough to short circuit the deck, but popular removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods look awful small when facing down 4 toughness – something Hetrick and others demonstrated throughout the weekend.

    Living End – Michael Hetrick
    Day 1 Undefeated Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    How much mana do you want to use to stop your opponent? It's not a trick question: The answer is universally "as little as possible." Lightning Bolt is on-color for Splinter Twin, Jund, and Blue-White-Red decks, and its versatility keeps it in those lists event after event. You can stop small creatures of all sizes, interrupt some combos, and even burn your opponents to death if needed. And while it won't strike down an opponent, Path to Exile can rid the battlefield of anything with 4 or more toughness. Combined with a control backbone in Cryptic Command, Remand, Mana Leak, and Snapcaster Mage to double up whatever spells you need, it's easy to see how a control deck falls into place.

    Thoughtseize doesn't kill opponents or creatures, per se, but it's another one mana way to stymie the enemy. Jund may not have made a spectacular run in Valencia, but the power of ripping a key card out of an opponent's hand is still a threat. To assume the pinpoint disruption won't be seen amid the sea of players in Richmond would be folly, particularly when the Jund menace always seems to return with Inquisition of Kozileks and Fulminator Mages to back it up.

    While Living End managed a strong start at Pro Tour Born of the Gods, another cadre of players showed off the power of storm – putting Chris Fennell into the Top 8 as well as the likes of Kai Budde and Gaudenis Vidugiris into the Top 16. Using cheap spells to suddenly "turn on" Pyromancer Ascension, a flurry of Manamorphoses, Desperate Rituals, and Pyretic Rituals rack up the mana count for a lethal sequence of Lightning Bolts and Grapeshots, all backed up by Past in Flames. Two card combos might be the face of Modern, but storm is a highlight its potential.

    Storm – Chris Fennell
    Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    Here's a question that came up in coverage from the Pro Tour: If a piece of equipment gave +4/+0, +5/+0, or more, how much mana should it cost? Cranial Plating's cheap costs to play and equip helps fuel the speed and power of Affinity. With Arcbound Ravager ready to turn every artifact in play into opponent-killing power, the premier aggressive deck in the format puts a clock on all but the best prepared decks.

    Affinity – Christian Seibold
    Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    One of the newest decks to emerge for Modern from Pro Tour Born of the Gods was the Tarmo-Twin hybrid, mixing the pressure and utility of Termogoyf and Scavenging Ooze with a Splinter Twin shell gave Patrick Dickmann flexibility to both threaten the beatdown on the battlefield at the same time as threatening the typical Splinter Twin win.

    The toolbox sideboard is also typical for Modern, filled with flexibile options for stopping and anwering opponents of almost any type of deck.

    Anyone who watched the 2013 World Championships knows just how close Reid Duke came to becoming the winner over Shahar Shenhar. The might of hexproof creatures, typically immune to the removal opponents are playing, empowered with Aura after Aura is to the battlefield what the Storm deck is to the stack.

    Hexproof Auras – Raymond Tan
    Pro Tour Born of the Gods

    The World is Not Enough

    Are those enough cards for you? If not never fear: There will be dozens more on display all weekend at Grand Prix Richmond. As long as you keep all of these cards and decks in mind you'll be mostly prepared for Modern.

    At least everyone at home gets to keep this cheat sheet handy!


  • Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – What To Look for this Weekend

    by Marc Calderaro

  • There are 4,303 combatants here in Virginia. This is a gigantic hall (two halls, actualy), and combined with all the judges, event staff, and spectators there is likely over 5,000 people here today. When seemingly infinite things are going on all around, how do you know where to focus your attention? What should we be watching out for and pulling from the mountains of words, data, numbers, decks, etc. that are out in full force today? Don't worry, folks, I've got you covered.

    The overarching themes of Modern are openness and variability. This format more so than any other has a freedom of deck choice and play style. Looking at the data from Pro Tour Born of the Gods, barely any deck can claim that it commanded over a tenth of the field (and if you carve further into sub-archetypes of the top two decks, nothing was close to over 10%). The mantra we hear over and over is "Play what you know." This lack of a "best deck" has some repercussions.

    First off, it drives pros nuts. If there isn't a best deck, it's harder to decipher what the metagame will be for a given tournament. What decks will show up? What specific card choices will people make? These questions are easy when there's a king of the hill to dethrone. But in a format like this one, you can't expect to see any particular decks at all throughout the tournament. Even if something is 15% of the field, you might never run up against it. Pros, who prefer to have everything figured out beforehand, have to make a choice: Are they going to dive fully into a linear strategy that might blow up in their faces, but might also reward them greatly? Or will they hedge and try to have a near-even game against the majority of the field and try to outplay the competition?

    For example, the Ad Nauseam deck is a strong, dedicated linear strategy. The deck attempts to ignore what the other deck is doing and just win when it casts Angel's Grace and Ad Nauseam in the same turn. Even in sideboarding, there's only so much the Ad Nauseam player can change, because you don't want to disrupt your own strategy by bringing in a critical mass of cards that don't add to the deck's strategy. Jared Boettcher used this deck at the Pro Tour and ended 7-2-1 in the Modern portion. He reaped the great rewards finishing 9th overall.

    Other decks similar to this are Storm, Little Zoo, Affinity, Living End, UG Hexproof, and the straight combo version of Splinter Twin. However, a choice like this has its caveats. These decks can have specific bad matchups, and if you run into them a few too many times, you will likely finish poorly. Though it's possible you avoid these bad matchups, many people aren't willing to roll the dice and take that risk.

    Instead, such people play a deck that is more reactive, and more malleable to what the opponent is doing. WUR Control, GB Obliterator Rock, and Melira Pod are all made to adapt to what's happening on the battlefield. Though this means the games are often tougher on average, because there are fewer auto-win matchups, the percentages across the entire field is generally better because there's no silver bullets that can wreck your day (think Creeping Corrosion for Affinity, Rule of Law for Storm, Leyline of the Void for Living End, etc.).

    This idea of silver bullets leads perfectly into the second big question of having a broad format: Is it better for your sideboard to be specific or generic? Jim Davis wrote about this in a great article, "The Right Stuff," Star City Games published this week. Davis argues that because there are so many decks to account for in Modern, the lazy way of sideboarding doesn't work as much as in previous formats. Usually, if Affinity is a tough match for you, you just throw four Shatterstorm in the sideboard and call it a day. But Shatterstorm is only good against that one deck, and you might never see the robots the entire weekend. If you don't, you just wasted over 25% of your sideboard. Similarly, Patrician's Scorn can be an "Oops-I-Win" against UG Hexproof, but what other matchups are you going to side into a Patrician's Scorn? (Hint: the answer is likely "none.")

    The article argues, and many agree, rather than sideboarding cards like Shatterstorm or Patrician's Scorn, play something like Wear & Tear. Though the split card doesn't make you automatically win either match-up, it shores up both of them and you don't run into the problem of the narrowly tailored sideboard cards that aren't applicable elsewhere. The closer you have to fifteen cards that all matter over the course of the tournament, the better. Again, you're more likely to have to outplay your opponent that way, but if Storm isn't going to show up in huge numbers, maybe Rule of Law shouldn't be bulking up your sideboard. Even though Magic's Michael Jordan, Jon Finkel, admitted his pet deck Storm is basically dead to a Rule of Law, can you even to play the enchantment this weekend?

    So this weekend, while mulling over all the data, all the players, all the decks, look out for what is being rewarded in both the main deck and the sideboard. Are linear or malleable strategies being rewarded? And what about focused or broad sideboards? Both focused sideboards and linear strategies can be evidence of a settling format. If people can correctly decipher what will show up, it's easier to go with your own game plan, and spike your opponent's. There has been a lot of talk that the top decks in Modern are "figured out." Though the actual lists vary greatly, it often includes Storm, UWx Control, Birthing Pod, Zoo, and Splinter Twin. If this is true, look for sideboards tailored to defeat these decks. If not, look for sideboard hedging. And even if it is true, that's a large number of decks that are all vying for Tier 1 status.

    The funny thing about betting is, sometimes gambles pay off. This current Modern format only has one large tournament under its belt. The release of Born of the Gods, the banning of Deathrite Shaman, and the unbanning of both Wild Nacatl and Bitterblossom have only begun to show their effects. There is only so much that you can actually determine and predict. Sometimes you just got to roll the dice and take your chances. However, there's a caveat to that as well.

    As the Pro Tour showed, Modern is a format that rewards preparation. The people who finished at the top of the field were players who'd logged thousands of games, and knew exactly what to play and when. If there's a thrid thing you want to look for this weekend, don't be surprised if the top of the standings is not populated with all the top pros, but the pros and grinders who've put the most time into getting this format right.

    So settle in to your couches, your beds, your desk chairs. It's going to be a grueling weekend spread across two days (and two event halls)—with pushes and pulls, ebbs and flows, and more physical Magic combatants than we've ever seen before. And I have no doubt that the victor will have answered all those questions right: Linear or malleable strategy? Broad or narrow sideboard? And the big one: Have you prepared enough?

    It's a Magical World, Hobbes ol' buddy; let's go exploring.


  • Saturday, 1:15 p.m. – Photo Diary: The Grand Prix Across the Street

    by Adam Styborski

  • Think you've been to a big Grand Prix?

    Grand Prix Richmond is vast. This is the main hall before the players arrived:

    Then, the flood arrived.

    But if you could count everyone in the room with feature match tabls you'd come up nearly 1,600 players short. Why? Grand Prix Richmond is too large for the main hall, so one of the flights was set up across the street.

    No, really. It's that vast.

    First, you leave the main hall:

    Then, head down the hallway until you ascend the escalator:

    You're then greeted by another, longer hallway to traverse:

    The sunny skywalk across the street is next:

    A short hallway and it's the entrance to the third flight:

    Here nearly 1,600 players, such as Ari Lax, Patrick Cox, Alex Majalton, and (8) Josh Utter-Leyton, duke it out for the right to return on Day 2:

    And that's the Grand Prix across the street.


  • Saturday, 2:00 p.m. – How Do You Bottle the Beast?

    by Marc Calderaro

  • Modern. What do you do with this behemoth? Two or three years ago, it was easy to believe this format didn't have legs—there were decks that could Blazing Shoal you out if you were silly enough to play a first-turn tap land. But looking out into the sea of people here at the largest Constructed Grand Prix in Magic history, it's safe to say that Modern not only has legs, but extremely long, spindly ones. The format is vibrant, interactive, and open. But it's one thing to have interest in the format and play it at your local game store. It's something else to attend a 4,300-player tournament and succeed. So what should you do to make that transition? I talked to former Player of the Year Brad Nelson, a recent Modern convert, to find out how he prepared to face down a tournament the size of Stowe, Vermont.

    Nelson is a self-admitted Standard specialist. Though he doesn't attend Grand Prix events with the same regularity he has in the past, he has finished in the Top 8 four out of five Standards he's attended, and the fifth time saw him lose two back-to-back win-and-ins to finish just out of the running. But this man has came to play Modern today; and he's knows his stuff. "This is the first time my opinion on Modern is actually relevant," he joked. The man has spent the better part of two weeks grinding out matches online, the place that got him his original breakout performances, and has a solid game plan. So what did he do and how should you do it too?

    Brad Nelson

    Well, firstly, he "stopped being cute." Sure, he piloted the Niv Magus deck that could win in the first two turns, but it could also mulligan itself into oblivion or get blown out by a single Path to Exile. After recognizing the "danger of cool things," Nelson's advice can be condensed into two solid points: 1) Know your strengths and pick a deck that plays to them, and 2) Play the crap out of that deck.

    Knowing your strengths may seem like an easy thing to do, but it requires a lot of self-reflection, and often, an impartial third party. "Jacob Van Lunen had to tell me what kind of decks I like to play," Nelson said, which sounded ridiculous coming from a former Player of the Year. But it's true. "He figured out that I like to play highly interactive decks that have explosive finishes." This Standard connoisseur plays cards like Craterhoof Behemoth, Blasphemous Act, and Flesh & Blood (and winning a recent StarCityGames Invitational Qualifier with Boros Charm and Ghor-Clan Rampager)—cards that allowed for interaction in the early turns, but aimed for a giant combo finish. When Brad realized this, it pointed to an easy choice: Tarmo-Twin. And when Van Lunen heard that the decision, the Jersey native said, "All I could think was, 'that's so Brad.'"

    Although there's an argument for Melira Pod as well, Nelson said he liked Twin because all the cards are powerful on their own. "In Pod, you play a lot of one-ofs that aren't that good on their own. If you don't have Chord of Calling or Birthing Pod, you're basically playing a Gavony Township deck." Nelson also admitted that playing Pod would make it hard to accomplish his second step of knowing the deck inside and out. "I didn't play Pod in Standard, and I haven't played it yet in Modern. It's a hard deck."

    This sentiment was echoed by some of the Canadian players that I talked to. Though Pascal Maynard, Kevin Antcil, and Philipp Gareau all but admitted that Pod is probably the best deck, Maynard said, "I can't play it perfectly, so I'm not playing it at all." This was probably a good decision for the crew. They drove all the way from Canada (18 hours with pitstops), and perhaps a deck that requires such ridiculous lines of play every turn might not be the best choice. This segues into the second piece of advice Nelson extolled: Play the deck into the ground.

    Pascal Maynard, Kevin Antcil, and Philipp Gareau

    Nelson said he's played well into triple-digit games with the deck over the last week or so, and he said he's finally gotten a hang of it. In the process it's revealed one of the things he loves best about the format—its intricacy and slowness of play. One of the best parts of playing Tarmo-Twin, Brad said, is how much it slows down your opponent. "You might have Snapcaster, Lightning Bolt, and two land in your hand, but you're opponent has to play as if those two cards are Pestermite and Splinter Twin." The ability to win out of nowhere forces longer games, more interaction, and just more decisions in general. And this causes hands like the above to be better in Tarmo-Twin than any other deck, because you opponent has to play around the insta-win at all times, even though you don't have it.

    This forced interactivity helped Nelson figure out that his favorite play is to Remand his own spell. The games get so drawn-out, Nelson said he'll realize that an early Remand, allowing him to see a mere one card deeper into his deck, ends up being the reason he won nine turns later. "There's a constant exchange of small resources," he said, and if you're on the better end of the exchange each time, you'll pull out the victory. But, again, the only way you'll know when to exchange, is if you know all the lines. And the only way to know all the lines is to play the deck over, and over, and over. It's no surprise that the Pro Tour Born of the Gods Top 8 was littered with the people who'd ground out the format. I suspect it will be no different here.

    Nelson was eager to discuss the format and his prospects for this weekend, he's ready. And with his clear joy of the deck and his defined knowledge of the format, he's set himself up for success. "Who knows? I might fall flat on my face, but I'm confident. I know my deck like the back of my hand."

    In sum, Step One: Identify Hand. Step Two: Know Hand.


  • Saturday, 4:15 p.m. – 4300 Opponents

    by Adam Styborski

  • How do you handle the prospect of 4,300 opponents to defeat?

    Events of different sizes lead to different experiences. You might believe that 2013's Grand Prix Las Vegas is the event to measure against, but Limited –Modern Masters of Vegas – plays out differently than Constructed – the Modern proper of Richmond.

    How can you handle the 4,300 other decks to deal with?

    "It's not something you can handle," Eric Froehlich, the number 23-ranked player said. "You just play the deck you play the best. A format like Modern is so wide open there's no clear cut best deck, so you just play the deck you're most familiar with."

    "I'd shy away from playing a deck with a bunch of answers," Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Luis Scott-Vargas added. "I'm not comfortable saying what the field looks like. At a Pro Tour you can guess that Spell Snare might look a little better than Mana Leak, but here?" The ocean of players over his shoulder reinforced the futility of predicting what others might be playing.

    Luis Scott-Vargas and Eric Froehlich were among the horde that descended upon Richmond this weekend.

    Choosing your deck is often a powerful part of Grand Prix preparation, but here there's a different focus for playing: Player expectations factor in approaching a number of opponents that can populate small town.

    "If you're going to play a standard nine round event you'll be playing experienced people at the end of the day," Froehlich said. "That may not be the case here. You're going to get more judge calls and miscommunication with this many people."

    "I'd also say you should be sure what's going on with your opponent," Scott-Vargas continued. "Modern's a complex format a lot of stuff going on." The eager inexperienced (and tired) players demand attention from each other.

    "If I'm playing against LSV at the Pro Tour we're going to have shortcuts we understand," Froehlich said, "but here that might not be the case." Brushing up on your Magic rules and card is always a good idea. For examples of just how complicated they can be in Modern the Magic Judges blog has you covered .

    What else sets these super events apart?

    "You have to prepare for a longer event. The days are going to be longer," Scott-Vargas said. "My expectations [for winning] go down for a larger tournament. It's just harder to do well but it shouldn't change how you play. And it's harder to find your friends!" Scott-Vargas said.

    "It's definitely more of a spectacle than an event," Froehlich said. "But it would be cooler to win."

    "Yes, it would," Scott-Vargas agreed, with a cheerful smile.

    Huge events like Grand Prix Las Vegas and Grand Prix Richmond might sound like a bit down, but that's not how Scott-Vargas looked at it. "One of the best things about this event is that it demonstrates Magic is getting bigger. While it's harder for us to win the event, if this leads to more benefits or expansions down the road it's worth it." Last year a fourth Pro Tour and scaling prize support for larger Grand Prix were added. With more super-sized events on the horizon there could be even more for 2015.

    But it's not just about the spoils of victory. Modern is an Eternal format, reaching back halfway through the game's history.

    "The fact the people are getting exciting about these old cards really ties together that Magic's been a game for 20 years," Froehlich said. "We've been around awhile so we can go back and explore some of our favorite cards again."

    Scott-Vargas was sagely succinct: "Modern has a lot of depth."

    4,300 players prove it.


  • Round 4 Feature Match - Josh Netto (Tempo Twin) vs. (2) Reid Duke (UW Tron)

    by Marc Calderaro

  • It's hard to introduce No. 2 Reid Duke at this point. I mean, what hasn't he done? He started his reputation out as a great online player, picking up a MOCS title to his name. Then things started spiraling out of control. Then he started racking up Grand Prix finishes like they were Beanie Babies (with now nine Top 8s to his name), and he's currently ranked second in the world.

    Josh Netto is no slouch himself, although he plays himself off as one. A local player who's taken down a Star City Games Invitational Qualifier before, he self-proclaims that he's here to have fun. It's hard not to have fun when you're sitting 3-0, but sitting against someone like Reid Duke in Round 4 is quick way to dampen that, though Netto is still pleased as punch.

    Netto's Tempo Twin deck has a pretty good game against Duke's UW Tron in the first game. Duke admitted that "it's tough." But he continued, "I have twelve hate cards in the sideboard; games two and three are very positive." Packing things like Celestial Purge and Ghostly Prison, cards that just shut down the Splinter Twin-Pestermite combination, it was hard to disagree.

    On why he decided to play this deck over his well-performing GB Obliterator Rock from the Pro Tour: "Short Answer? It's really fun." Good enough for me, Reid.

    Reid Duke

    Game 1

    Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Expedition Map from Reid Duke ensured an "Urzatron" completion on the third turn. His opponent Josh Netto began as a usual Twin variant deck does: he sculpted for a couple turns with Serum Visions and waited for the opportune moment to launch his two card combo assault. Duke did precious little with his assembled Urzatron, opting to just cast a few Thirst for Knowledge, thanks to a Talisman of Progress, and do some hand sculpting himself.

    After delaying Netto with Remand, Duke resolved a Gifts Ungiven. With the amount of mana he currently had at his disposal (twelve), he could do anything. He opted for a Path to Exile, Condescend, Remand, and Hallowed Fountain. The pile showed great respect for the Twin deck's ability to win out of nowhere. Duke knew that flashy cards weren't going to win him the match, pure card advantage might. Netto allowed Condescend and the Remand to go to Duke's hand. The Sugarloaf, New Yorker already had a win condition in his hand (an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn), so all he needed was time.

    The fate of the game seemed sealed when Pestermite was hit by Remand yet again, while Duke drew more cards off his third Thirst for Knowledge. Duke, as calm as ever, untapped for his turn and tapped fifteen mana and cast the Eldrazi.

    But Netto had plans. During Duke's extra turn, right before Duke could declare his attackers, Netto cast a Pestermite and targeted the Emrakul which would tap it down (though Emrakul has "Protection from colored spells," the triggered ability from the Pestermite comes from a creature, as it's no longer on the stack when the ability happens). A counter war ensued, and Duke eventually got rid of the blue creature, but only after it had tapped the big dude.

    The same shenanigans came the next turn—this time using Deceiver Exarch. Duke again had some removal in the form of Oblivion Ring, but Netto had a Mizzium Skin for Hexproof. Duke smartly responded with another Path to Exile before the Mizzium Skin could resolve, which would have stopped any targeted removal for the remainder of the turn, perhaps allowing a resolved Splinter Twin resulting in "Infinity Faeries."

    It had been three turns with Emrakul on the board, and the 15/15 still could not attack, nor trigger its annihilator ability. Then Netto did it again, finding another Pestermite to delay the doomsday clock (not to be confused with the Armageddon Clock). Duke had run out of spot removal answers and cleared the board with Wrath of God—including his win condition. It's humorous that the right play was to kill his own 15/15 and Netto's 2/1, but indeed it was the only play.

    Then the grinding started. Duke had fended off Netto's assaults and got to relax. But Netto was getting the better end of the grind game thanks to a Desolate Lighthouse, letting him burn through the remainder of his cards faster than Duke could. Though Duke at one point resolved an Elesh Norn, it was not long for the world and was bounced and Vendilion Cliqued away. The two pushed each other back and forth but the life totals (1-17) revealed that Netto was up against the edge of a precipice—his hand was Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker and two Splinter Twin, but he never had a chance to cast them.

    Back and forth the game went, questions and answers, spells and counterspells. Eventually, after Duke laid down a Celestial Colonnade, Netto counted up his untappers in the graveyard, saw the potential 4/4 staring at his face, looked at the game clock, and said, "Reid, let's go to game two."

    Reid Duke 1 – 0 Josh Netto

    The first game had taken so long, every other match in the feature area had finished by the time they were ready to go again. They moved to the feature camera. Duke had managed to steal the first game somehow, now all he had to do was seal the deal.

    Game 2

    Spellskite, Path to Exile, and Condescend was enough disruption for Reid Duke to keep his opening hand. Netto had to go down to six cards. He had some disruption of his own with a few counterspells, and had one Deceiver Exarch representing half of his combo. But he was going to have to win fairly quickly. With Duke one game up, if this game lasted as long as the first one, Duke would come out the winner with a 1-0 victory.

    Duke from his first turn, drew spell after spell that destroy Netto's plan. A resolved Ghostly Prison stops the infinite creatures from attacking en masse; and a Celestial Purge could kill either the Kiki Jiki or the Splinter Twin before the untap trigger from the copied creature could hit the stack.

    Netto saw all this hate when he resolved a Vendilion Clique. The "splat" of Duke's seven cards on the table read like a murderer's row. Now with a Gifts Ungiven added to the pile, Duke had something proactive to do as well. After a shrug, Netto said, "Ehh, I'll take that one," and pointed at the Celestial Purge. Duke still had counterspells, Path to Exile, Spellskite, and a Ghostly Prison. Ug.

    Josh Netto

    Though Ghostly Prison hit a Swan Song wall, Duke got his turn back with a Spellskite, Expedition Map, and a 2/2 Bird token in play. A fresh Celestial Colonnade gave Duke a definitive clock, if a slow one. Soon enough, Duke activated the land and swung in with it and the bird. The 2/2 traded with the 3/1 Faerie and it was 13-20 in Duke's favor.

    Netto had to fight through two pieces of hate remaining before he could combo out—the Spellskite in play and the Path to Exile he knew was in Reid's hand. That was, until Duke resolved a Gifts Ungiven. The pile was Negate, Thirst for Knowledge, Gifts Ungiven and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Duke got the Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven—limiting the short-term removal available to Duke, hoping to get there in the next couple turns. But Netto was unable to capitalize in the short term.

    A bunch more draw spells and a Gifts Ungiven later, Emrakul came into play and we started the "Can-I-Attack-For-Fifteen?" game once again. This time, Duke had a Spellskite on the battlefield, so he was able to redirect Deceiver Exarch tap abilities to it, allowing the monstrosity to swing in unencumbered. That was it. You know why?

    Because if losing a turn and sacrificing six permanents doesn't get you, the fifteen damage will.

    Reid Duke 2 – 0 Josh Netto


  • Round 5 Feature Match - (19) Josh McClain vs. David Ochoa

    by Adam Styborski

  • Number 19-ranked Josh McClain is a previous Modern Grand Prix champion (Detroit 2013), known for his knowledge and skill with the Melira Pod deck. With his deep run to Top 16 at Pro Tour Born of the Gods it isn't unreasonable to expect the Modern master to claim a second title.

    David Ochoa has been slow to warm up this year after ending 2012 with a Top 8 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. A member of the potent ChannellFireball team, with numerous other top premiere finished behind him, he's as prepared as one can reasonably be and stands stoic to keep playing on his cold streak.

    The question, of course, is what happens when the unstoppable force meets the unmovable object?

    McClain's Melira Pod is among the best decks in the format, but that's something Ochoa certainly knew when he sat down.

    In the first game it was quickly apparent that McClain was on his Melira Pod plan, discarding Abrupt Decay and revealing Kitchen Finks among others to Ochoa's first turn Inquisition of Kozilek. When Liliana of the Veil followed soon thereafter without a red mana source in sight off three different fetch lands, GB Rock was clearly the deck in Ochoa's hand.

    While his Scavenging Ooze mitigated some of the life loss, Ochoa was quickly on the losing end of the race against Gaveony Township-enhanced creatures. Birthing Pod let McClain transform Kitchen Finks into both Linvala, Keeper of Silence and Murderous Redcap, but Ochoa didn't miss a step with another removal spell for the Angel. McClain used Birthing Pod to pull out multiple tricks, transforming Murderous Redcap into Shriekmaw to kill a large Scavengining Ooze, and Qasali Pridemage off the top of his deck changed into a life-padding Kitchen Finks.

    Pivoting off Gavony Township meant McClain could almost keep up with Ochoa's removal, but an Active Treetop Village meant Ochoa's ground crew was now the dominant force on the battlefield. In a late top deck, McClain cast Ranger of Eos to reload his side of the battlefield for one last stand.

    "Die already!" Ochoa exclaimed when McClain finally ran out of blockers and life, after many attacks for lethal.

    It took more than a half dozen turns for Ochoa to strike McClain down from just 2 life.

    "That game was pretty good." McClain said with a smile. It had taken nearly half the time in the match to resolve the roller coaster, but it was only the beginning.

    Game 2 started similarly, but Ochoa's Inquisition of Kozilek instead revealed two copies of Birth Pod and plenty of creatures to back it up. Kitchen Finks hit the bin but McClain's Birds of Paradise put him a full step faster then Ochoa, letting him Pod his Scavenging Ooze into the persistence Ouphe anyway. Swapping Kitchen Finks for Murderous Redcap let McClain handle Ochoa's Dark Confidant, and Gavony Township let McClain win the next combat step.

    From there McClain meticulously kept Ochoa in check. Eternal Witness snagged the needed fourth land for McClain, but his bodies and play were already more than enough after exhausting Ochoa's answers.

    McClain's Melira Pod can win with its combos, but it beats opponents down just as often.

    With little time left in the round, the pace of play picked up. The third game finally let Ochoa lead off, but it was all for naught: Stymied with just two lands in the play the entire game it was elementary for McClain to overrun the odd creature or two Ochoa could offer in resistance.

    With the Pro Tour just two weeks prior did either player change their choice of deck?

    "I've switched between Kiki Pod and this before," McClain said. "When Kiki Pod became a thing I played that for about six months, but then I switched back. In testing for the Pro Tour, even if I felt another deck was better I just had too many hours with this one to not play it." His eleventh place finish lent weight to McClain's plan.

    "I switched from Ramp," Ochoa said. "I wanted to make more decisions at the Grand Prix. The skill disparity here compared to the Pro Tour means there's a lot more room to outplay opponents."


  • Saturday, 9:30 p.m. – The Top Tables and the Dealers

    by Marc Calderaro

  • In Round 6, I did an informal survey of every player sitting at 5-0 in two of the three flights here. It was informal because, well, you try to figure out what 122 different people are playing in ten minutes. It's difficult. But I noticed something pretty awesome. Within that 5-0 group, there were 24 different archetypes represented. 24. And honestly, I probably missed a couple of the sub-archetypes of WUR. Among the most common were Affinity, Pod, and Storm. In multiples but not as numerous were Ad Nauseam, Living End, Blue Moon, Big Zoo, and various WUR decks. But don't count out the more fringe archetypes out there; there's a couple Merfolk decks, a 4c Gifts, Mono-Black Infect Discard, Faeries, BW Tokens, and Elves! all in up in there.

    In a world like this, how the heck do you sideboard? I tracked down some of the dealers to see what was selling hot and what the players were thinking. The gist was that the spike-the-football cards were selling much better than the more broad sideboard choices. Cards like Torpor Orb, which shuts down Pod and Twin cold, were selling like gangbusters at Cool Stuff Inc. Another static-effect artifact that was moving was Defense Grid. James at MTG First also said Defense Grid was a hot seller.

    Defense Grid is an interesting sideboard choice, because it usually goes in proactive decks. If you want to cast a bunch of stuff, but you're afraid some counterspells are going to ruin your day, Defense Grid can help you do your thing without worrying about pesky "removal spells" and "card interaction." The Grid is what comes in if you're still the beatdown, and can afford to take a turn off casting something to help muscle through the competition.

    Grand Prix Richmond Dealers

    James also talked about a card we saw in the sideboard of the Pro Tour–winning decklist, Porphyry Nodes. This little drop of honey, though a bit slow, can gain its caster tons of advantage over the course of any game against creatures. Big Zoo, Merfolk, BG Obliterator Rock, Jund, Affinity, all have to win with creatures eventually. So repeatable removal for a paltry one mana can be the bees knees.

    Over at the ChannelFireball table, they saw three cards move off the shelves quickly: Rule of Law, Fracturing Gust, and Runed Halo. Rule of Law is a potent enchantment that is surprisingly strong against multiple decks. Though the windmill slam against Storm, it also turns off Living End and Ad Nauseam with ease. The Ad Nauseam matchup is funny that way, because the usual build plays only one Echoing Truth in the sideboard, and plans to draw out its whole deck before bouncing any problematic permanent like Leyline of Sanctity. But Rule of Law stops the Ad Nauseam player from casting Angel's Grace and the namesake instant in the same turn, so drawing the bounce spell at all becomes difficult. The deck must instead rely on Phyrexian Unlife, which unsurprisingly gets sided out against more controlling decks.

    The Fracturing Gust is pretty simple to understand. It hoses both Affinity and the UG Hexproof deck ("Boggles")—all while gaining back enough life keep out of death range. But the Runed Halo is my favorite. It's the panacea of the sideboard. The ability to grant protection from any card certainly stop decks that rely on one targeted win condition (think Grapeshot out of Storm or Lightning Storm out of Ad Nauseam). But it also acts as pseudo-removal. Sure, setting it on Deceiver Exarch can stop TarmoTwin from comboing out, but setting it on Tarmogoyf can just stop the beatdown when you need it to. The versatility of the enchantment is surprising.

    The best anecdote from the dealers wasn't about sideboards at all, and came from Eric at He said the most common request he's gotten has been people asking if they have Remands for sale. And then customers just don't buy them. Eric said it's been happening all over the first few rounds, and he thinks it's less about cost and more about seeing how many control decks and counterspells are out there. If you want to jam a win-or-lose spell, it's nice to know how many counterspells are out there.

    Grand Prix Richmond Dealers

    It just works so perfectly as a metaphor. It's almost as if the dealers are casting the Remand on the customers.

    Anyway, it's pure pandemonium out here in terms of playable decks. If you know it well, you can play it. It's a seller's market, or wait, a buyer's it's a bull market? Ok, nevermind, I'm confused. Anyway, it's an awesome market out here. Come on down and have some fun.


  • Round 7 Feature Match - Greg Kemper (8 Rax) vs. (23) Eric Froehlich (Melira Pod)

    by Marc Calderaro

  • With Top 8s in two Pro Tours, one World Championship, and nine Grand Prix, without even including his various poker accomplishments, No. 23 Eric Froehlich is a man with a resumé. He's running the Melira Pod deck, arguably the most complicated deck in the format. And like a champ he picked up the deck like a week ago. Many pros here have steered clear of unfamiliar decks, especially one touted to be the hardest in the format to play right. But Froehlich said, "I started playing with it, and I just couldn't seem to lose." It's hard to argue with results. And he's 6-0 so far.

    He's up against Westchester, Pennsylvania's Greg Kemper. Though Kemper has a comparably slimmer curriculum vitae, his 8 Rax deck attacks (or, I suppose, "attax") the format from a different angle that is often hard to account for. It heavily relies on early discard spells to empty the hand of his opponent. Usually after doing this, he can take his time killing the opponent with The Rack and Shrieking Affliction. Froehlich said he had never played the match-up before, whereas Kemper had played against Pod tons of times, so Kemper had the rogue advantage. He was 6-0 himself, so his been riding that advantage to good use.

    But Eric Froehlich's Pod deck is a bit of a challenge for Kemper. The deck's namesake, Birthing Pod, allows Froehlich to play straight from his library, assuming he has a creature on the field. If Froehlich lands a Birthing Pod and can keep a creature or two on the board, he would eventually be able to grind out a win, but it would have to be faster than the one-drop kill spells of Kemper's. Kemper said the match-up is highly draw and board dependent. "For example, Smallpox against [the Pod deck], is great on the play, but it's terrible on the draw."

    Eric Froehlich

    Game One

    A turn-one Thoughtseize from Greg Kemper revealed Eternal Witness, Thrun, the Last Troll, Abrupt Decay, Kitchen Finks, Birthing Pod, and Verdant Catacombs from Eric Froehlich. He had a Overgrown Tomb already on the battlefield. But Kemper was far from finished with the discard (it would be quite the bad discard deck if it only had one discard spell).

    Thoughtseize, Raven's Crime, and Inquisition of Kozilek all started stripping Froehlich's hand, but Froehlich kept the Birthing Pod safe. When he eventually cast it (using a land he had to Eternal Witness back from the graveyard), he sacrificed the 2/1 Regrowth machine to fetch a Murderous Redcap. The next turn, he sacrificed the Redcap (returning it with a -1/-1 counter thanks to the persist mechanic) and fetched out a Reveillark. The Birthing Pod chain had begun.

    Though Kemper had landed an Ensnaring Bridge to stop Froehlich from attacking, the Top 25–ranked player had his engine online. Before Froehlich attacked for the turn, the life totals were 15-9 in Kemper's favor. Kemper blocked the 1/1 Redcap, and post-combat the Reveillark brought back both it and the Eternal Witness. Witness returned the Abrupt Decay that was discarded oh so long ago, and Kemper's one source of damage, The Rack, was sent to the graveyard. After all that maneuvering of cards in and out of zones it was 11-8. Kemper had the life lead, but had no way to deal the final points. Though it had looked grim, Froehlich finally had the lead, both in board state and life total.

    Kemper was playing off the top (to be fair, so was Froehlich, but with the active Birthing Pod and few creatures out, the top of the deck is much less important). If Kemper had been able to stop the Birthing Pod from coming out, he had the potential to shut down this engine. But at this point, it was too late.

    Froehlich's kill engine under Ensnaring Bridge wasn't pretty, but after he made a Ranger of Eos, finding a Noble Hierarch; then turned the Noble Hierarch into a Qasali Pridemage, Kemper had seen enough. He scooped up his cards for the second game.

    Eric Froehlich 1 – 0 Greg Kemper

    Game Two

    Thoughtseize again turn one revealed Scavenging Ooze, Birds of Paradise, Kitchen Finks, Murderous Redcap, and land. Kemper took the Birds, and then followed Raven's Crime and a second Thoughtseize. Both times Kemper left the Scavenging Ooze in Froehlich's hand and it came down on the pro's second turn. This likely meant Kemper had an answer for it.

    And he did. Kemper simply made a Liliana of the Veil and brought it down to one counter. This time Kemper's deck did what was supposed to. A Smallpox the next turn took out a land and a Birds of Paradise, and with the help of the Planeswalker, emptied Froehlich's hand. Smallpox is good on the play. And like a champ, Kemper top-decked the Shrieking Affliction to start the killing.

    It was 15-12 when Kemper got the turn back. His Liliana was down to one counter thanks to a Voice of Resurgence (which is a real jerk to kill with Liliana), but Froehlich sunk to 9, and was on a quick clock. The Rack came down the next turn and Froehlich took five more to go down to 4 life.

    Greg Kemper

    But Froehlich still had a chance, oddly enough because he was drawing land. Kemper had two Inquisition of Kozilek in a row, but they couldn't make Froehlich discard anything, because he just flashed Forests. Voice of Resurgence kept attacking for two each turn, and it was 6-2 and Froehlich had two cards in his hand. Kemper would need to draw a card to make Froehlich discard his lands, or a Ensnaring Bridge in three turns.

    He immediately found a Wrench Mind. It was more than enough to make Froehlich die on his upkeep thanks to 2 Rax.

    Eric Froehlich 1 – 1 Greg Kemper

    Game Three

    Right on time, a third turn-one Thoughtseize came from Kemper. It revealed Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Abrupt Decay, Eternal Witness, and land. Kemper took the Witness and found himself facing down a top-decked Voice of Resurgence. Though not particularly fast, it was a clock at all, and hard to remove efficiently. If Kemper could have taken that card, he might have.

    Kemper's second turn was spent casting two Raven's Crime and Froehlich chose to discard the other two non-land spells he had. On turn three a second Thoughtseize took the only remaining card, a second Abrupt Decay. Kemper cast a Shrieking Affliction and started the race. Kemper got his turn back with the scores 12-15 in Froehlich's favor, but the poker pro was handless. The Raven's Crime making sure that it would stay that way. It was Voice of Resurgence versus Shrieking Affliction.

    It looked like Froehlich was on the losing end of the deal, but the turn that changed the game was when Froehlich top-decked a Qasali Pridemage. Not only did it add +1/+1 to the Voice, bringing to totals to 7-9, but it also took out Kemper's win condition. Kemper was beginning to sweat. Just as I said way back when, Voice of Resurgence on the second turn had created a threat that Kemper couldn't handle.

    It might seem silly to say, but drawing the Voice on the second turn made the difference. It had dealt all the damage thus far in the match. And it would also deal the final. Kemper drew dead for a few turns, then became dead.

    Eric Froehlich 2 – 1 Greg Kemper

    Commenting on the match-up after, Froehlich said that it can be frustrating but, "If I have a pod, I don't think I can ever lose. I just pod into Harmonic Sliver to kill the Ensnaring Bridge, and I can turn that into Entomber Exarch if a really need to." Eric Froehlich advances to 7-0; Greg Kemper sinks to 6-1.

    Greg Kemper – 8 Rack
    Grand Prix Richmond - Modern

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    19  Swamp
    Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

    23 lands

    Dark Confidant

    4 creatures

    Ensnaring Bridge
    Inquisition of Kozilek
    Raven's Crime
    Shrieking Affliction
    The Rack
    Wrench Mind

    30 other spells

    Liliana of the Veil

    3 planeswalkers

    Ensnaring Bridge
    Liliana of the Veil
    Nihil Spellbomb
    Torpor Orb

    15 sideboard cards


  • “On the Bubble (Kinda)” Photo Essay

    by Marc Calderaro

  • There were plenty of names on the bubble this round. Now, "on the bubble" is a bit of a misnomer. Though a 7-2 finish is good enough to make the second day, because of the tournament size, that record pretty much locks players out of the Top 8, most likely the Top 16 as well. However, they can still put up a strong, money finish. But to do that, they need to win here. So, these pros are "on the bubble" to be invited back into Sunday action.

    Marc Lalague

    Two-time Grand Prix winner, Marc Lalague had to beat a tough matchup against Ad Nauseam, but was able to take it down 2-1 to advance to the Sunday stage.

    Osyp Lebedwicz

    Old salt, Osyp Lebedwicz was frustratingly trying to push his robots through for the final points, but ended up with a draw.

    Joe Demestrio

    Grinder and Grand Prix Portland finalist Joe Demestrio has been holding solid with Burn, and went up quickly in the first game then just as quickly snatched the second to 2-0 his way into tomorrow. (Sometimes it's nice to play Burn. Win or lose, you get to go home early.)

    Christian Calcano

    Fellow New York–native and Grand Prix winner Christian Calcano was also battling for his life, slinging Maelstrom Pulses and Inquisitions of Kozilek like nobody's business. He took the match down with relative ease.

    Brian Kibler

    And finally Brian Kibler, ever the crowd pleaser, tried to battle out with his Naya monsters. In fact he was pleasing the crowd so long, he was one of the last matches to finish. Like a showman, he pulled out the victory in the dramatic moments of the round. A flourish at the finish.

    With the exception of poor Osyp, all these players were able to convert. This is unsurprising, as they're used to this type of pressure, but it's surely a comfort that they are still money-alive for tomorrow, if Top 8–dead.


  • Photo Essay: Undefeated Options

    by Adam Styborski

  • Pros believe Modern is diverse. Players believe Modern is diverse. The proof, however, is always in the pudding. If the format is as varied as we've been told all day long, then those battling for the right to be called "undefeated" should reflect that.

    It's a simple test, no?

    Here's what I found on the floor for Round 9 of the Green and White flights.

    Christopher Yarbrough and Jonathan Chappell

    Christopher Yarbrough's Tarmo-Twin faced off against Jonathan Chappell's Jund. In the end, the Jund menace rose to the occasion.

    Richard Nguyen and Patrick Dickmann

    Richard Nguyen's Blue Moon was battling Patrick Dickmann's Tarmo-Twin in a showdown lifted right from Pro Tour Born of the Gods. Dickmann was delightful for coverage viewers and delivered a win to remain perfect.

    Daryl Ayers and Andrew Black

    Daryl Ayers was tossing about Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in Scapeshift, fighting the merciless machines of Andrew Black's Affinity. The crushing weight of Ayers' Mountains smashed the robot army, leaving Scapeshift to lead the way.

    Ben Friedman and Matthew Bevenour

    Ben Friedman was angling for a top slot with Melira Pod, but Matthew Bevenour's Storm deck was clouding up over the parade. The power of Friedman's Pod prevailed in the not-so-stormy night.

    Andrew Calderon and Valentin Mackl

    Andrew Calderon was also planning to cast Scapeshift just as Valentin Mackl looked to Storm over the changing landscape. Here, the height of Calderon's Mountain kept the clouds at bay another round.

    Noah Walker and Allen Mok

    Noah Walker had a Melira Pod deck to face down Allen Mok's classic UR Twin option. And, again, the power of Pod prevailed in the duel of combos.

    Zach Jesse and Joseph Milia

    Zach Jesse was the third Storm player looking to ascend to perfection, but Joseph Milia's Jund deck was closing in to stop it. This time, Jesse's thunderous Storm spells lit up the battlefield over Jund.

    Eric Froehlich and Steven Chisolm

    23rd-ranked Eric Froehlich was paired down with his Melira Pod deck, where Steven Chisolm was waiting to try his hand with Bant Pod to stop the star. Here, Froehlich finally fell to another flavor of Birthing Pod.

    For those counting, that's four Birthing Pod decks, three Storm, three of Splinter Twin types, two each of Scapeshift and Jund, as well as lonesome stragglers with Affinity and Blue Moon. This isn't exactly the full spectrum of diversity, but seven (or so, depending how you count) different decks isn't a few either. The eventual winners were Melira Pod, Storm, Melira Pod, Scapeshift, Jund, Tarmo-Twin, and Scapeshift – five of the seven we started with the round.

    With the addition of how the Pink Flight shook out as well as the reset of tiebreakers to start Day 2, the run for Top 8 will be a fantastic spectacle to watch.

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