Every tournament, there are moments that stand out, and Grand Prix Louisville was no exception. As Reid Duke made his 19th Grand Prix Top 8 appearance and went on to win the title, here are the moments that stood out to us.
This only takes one word, because it speaks for itself. Players love Legacy, and never was that more clear than this weekend. As snowstorms blanketed large swaths of the country and flights were delayed or canceled, players still found ways to make it to Louisville. Top 8 competitor Cody Napier got off work at 1 a.m. Friday night and drove four hours to Louisville and slept for an hour in the car, all so he could be on site Saturday morning to play his favorite format.
Zac Elsik took it a step further. Faced with the cancelation of his original flight, the Grand Prix Oklahoma City champion found a replacement flight that landed at 10 p.m.
The only problem? It landed in Chicago.
Zac Elsik went to great lengths to make it to Grand Prix Louisville.
But Elsik's group wouldn't be denied. They took that flight, then rented a car and drove five hours to Louisville to play.
Like I said, players love Legacy.
4) Conspiracy: Take the Crown hits the Grand Prix scene
Leovold, Emissary of Trest entered as the most-hyped card of the weekend, but like all hyped cards, it was an open question exactly how the new kid on the Legacy block would hold up over the rigor of 15 rounds and a Top 8.
A Grand Prix victory later, it's safe to say Leovold is here to say. In a format defined by its one-mana cantrips, a card that says "each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn" is going to be talked about. When that line of text is attached to a reasonable body and an elf to boot — not to mention the fact Leovold draws its controller cards as well — it has the potential to become a Legacy staple.
Reid Duke's winning decklist is a testament to that. His Sultai list eschewed the traditional lynchpins of the combination, running no Shardless Agent and no Delver of Secrets, but won the Grand Prix nonetheless.
Leovold is here to stay.
3) Showdown of Champions
Grand Prix Louisville produced an absolutely loaded Top 8, with four platinum or former platinum pros. Three of those players have a championship to their name — Reid Duke is the 2011 Magic Online Player of the Year, Craig Wescoe is the Pro Tour Dragon's Maze winner, and Brian Braun-Duin is the reigning World Champion.
All three made the Top 8, and Duke and Braun-Duin squared off in the semifinals. It was an exciting match that drew a crowd, and in the end Duke knocked off Braun-Duin to advance to the finals.
2) Sullano brings Black-Red Reanimator to the Grand Prix Scene
The Black-Red Reanimator deck has been making some waves in Legacy recently, and finalist Andrew Sullano silenced anyone who may have doubted the deck's chops after its Top 8 appearance at Eternal Weekend two months ago.
Legacy is a format that has always given players the potential to "just win" the game on the first or second turn, but in practice it rarely happens outside of Goblin Charbelcher thanks to cards like Force of Will and Daze. Many combo decks play blue themselves to help protect the combo.
Black-Red Reanimator throws that paradigm out the window.
Andrew Sullano's Black-Red Reanimator deck was a force to be reckoned with all weekend, and it carried him into the finals.
There is no better example of the deck's power than this sequence in Game 2 of the finals.
Reveal Chancellor of the Annex. Play Bayou and cast Lotus Petal. Dark Ritual up to three mana, Entomb for Griselbrand and then Exhume to bring it into play. Even if his opponent had been sitting on Force of Will, it would be useless thanks to the Chancellor trigger.
Welcome to the big time, Black-Red Reanimator.
1) Duke rises to the top
Fifth-ranked Reid Duke is one of Magic's most popular pros for a reason He's a great player, an amicable personality and always shows the utmost respect to opponents and fans. So when Reid advanced to the finals of Grand Prix Louisville, there was little doubt who the crowd was rooting for.
Duke didn't let them down. In his 19th Grand Prix Top 8, Duke fought through a match in which Game 2 was decided when Sullano put a Griselbrand into play on the first turn of the game. His triple Noble Hierarch plus Leovold, Emissary of Trest was enough in the final game of the finals to dispatch his opponent and lock up the title of Grand Prix Louisville champion.