It began with more than 500 teams, and that mean a lot of Magic was played this weekend in San Antonio. In a tournament featuring a wide array of Modern decks and impressive pairings of players from across the world, it all came down to the team most people would have picked before it all began: the Peach Garden Oath vs. the world.
Or, in this case, the trio of Greg Orange, Adam Jansen and Andrejs Prost, who stared down the pros in the final table without blinking.
But that’s how it ended. Plenty of memorable moments got us there, and here are the five that most stood out in San Antonio
5) The Crowd Delivers
Magic is about more than the tournament itself for many. Sure, there were more than 1,600 players competing in the main event this weekend, but thousands more are watching online from across the world.
As enjoyable as the commentary was, it had nothing on this kid.
Part of the live streaming experience is rolling with whatever comes along, and that’s exactly what the commentary team did this weekend. After all, not much can match the Bonfire that Patrick Chapin and Brian David-Marshall got to call on Saturday. Locked in a tense Round 6 battle against Shuhei Nakamura, Sam Black’s Amulet Titan deck had a ton of lands thanks to Primeval Titan but couldn’t break through Nakamura’s defense of Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope. Fortunately for Black, the top of his deck yielded a miracle that had Brian David-Marshall nearly falling out of his chair as he called the incredible moment.
It was a wild weekend in San Antonio, and the crowd – and one nameless, dancing teenager – at the event had just as much fun with it as those
dancing watching at home.
4) Modern Brings the Innovation
It may sound difficult to play three decks that don’t share any cards in Modern, but if any format allows the opportunity to selected from a varied range of decks, it’s Modern. From the fast aggro to the fast combo to the grindy midrange to the prison control, the format has a lot to offer, and players explored every inch of that this weekend.
Look no further than the top four teams. Yes, the Team Unified format helped, but even after the expected Death’s Shadow decks – which filled three of its maximum four spots in the final four – there was plenty of diversity. Of the other nine decks in the Top 4, there were just two repeats – Affinity wasn’t a surprise, but the two copies of Bant Knightfall in the Top 4 certainly were. Add onto that five unique decks including Madcap Moon and pure White-Blue Control – a deck many pros feel is favored against the Death’s Shadow decks – and you have a wide slice of the Modern metagame on display.
We saw the unexpected as well. Topping that list was Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo, also known as the return of Eggs. Utilizing Scrap Trawler and even Hangarback Walker as an easy way to produce mana, the deck appears to back in force, and players like Pascal Maynard were finding success with it throughout the tournament. Pascal Maynard went 12-2 with the deck over the Swiss rounds of competition this weekend, and he wasn’t the only player at the top tables wielding the breakout combo deck.
Nothing showcased the raw power and resiliency of the deck quite like Maynard’s midday match against a Tron opponent. Faced with the clock ticking down and his opponent sitting on Relic of Progenitus, Maynard faced quite the dilemma in trying to win. It took nearly 15 minutes and the combined efforts of Maynard and teammates Shaheen Soorani and Brian Braun-Duin, but the exciting final turn saw the team fight through the anti-graveyard spell and pull off the victory.
3) The Community Steal the Show (and the Progenitus)
Grand Prix are a lot of things to a lot of players, and while the main event is obviously the largest and most visible aspect of the event, it’s far from the only one.
Just ask community favorites Tolarian Community College and The Mana Source, two of the game’s most popular Youtube content creators, who made their way to San Antonio. They spent the weekend hanging out with fans and enjoying the Grand Prix.
Maybe they had just a little too much fun…
And, of course, what’s a Grand Prix without an appearance from some of your favorite planeswalkers?
2) Pikula Almost Goes Back-to-Back
A week after a run to the semifinals of Grand Prix Orlando – his first Top 8 in a decade – Chris Pikula nearly did it again in San Antonio. Teamed up with Ben Seck and Jarvis Yu, the trio finished Day One atop the standings at a perfect 9-0. Their fairytale run came up breathtakingly close – they finished in fifth place to just miss the cut to the Top 4.
Still, it proved that last weekend was no fluke for Pikula, who will find himself back on the Hall of Fame ballot later this year after making his return to Magic over the past two years. The journey back hasn’t been easy for Pikula, but as he demonstrated in Texas, he’s back. And players who have eagerly rooted for him along that journey couldn’t be happier.
1) Orange, Jansen and Prost upset Peach Garden Oath
As memorable as the Grand Prix was, nothing was better than the final game of the final match between the juggernaut Peach Garden Oath – No. 3 Owen Turtenwald, No. 6 Reid Duke and Hall of Famer William “Huey” Jensen – and the upstarts from Team Hot Sauce Games.
And while Greg Orange, Adam Jansen and Andrejs Prost were certainly the underdogs, they were no slouches. With a handful of Grand Prix Top 8s under their belts, they battled fiercely all weekend. It was they who finally knocked off the undefeated team of Yu, Seck and Pikula early on in Day Two, and it was they who found themselves comfortably at the top of the standings when the Top 4 began.
After Jansen knocked off Jensen’s Eldrazi Tron in the first match and Turtenwald’s Grixis Control deck won the battle of the counterspells to beat Orange, it all came down to Prost and Duke. And when Duke landed a second-turn Stony Silence against Prost’s Affinity deck, it looked like the Peach Garden Oath – making their fifth Top 4 appearance in eight team Grand Prix – would be adding another trophy to their vast collections.
But Prost – celebrating his 25th birthday in style – found quite the string of gifts. A pair of Master of Etherium allowed him to simply grow his team larger than Duke could handle, and Etched Champion went the distance to send the unlikely trio to the title.
Congrats to Orange, Jansen and Prost, the champions of Grand Prix San Antonio!