It's a nice crown to take away from Day One of a Grand Prix. Starting Day Two well positioned for a Top 8 run is what players work hard to find, and there were ten who stood poised for the prize. These are the matches we saw.
Michael Peterson, with a typical Mono-Black Devotion deck, faced off against Kai Ruan with the Grand Prix Cincinnati-winning Esper Control deck. In this case, however, it was Peterson that cleared the decisive match two games to zero.
23rd-ranked Eric Froehlich and his splash-red Black Devotion list was paired against Michael Bonacini with a Mono-Black deck of his own. The red proved the edge, putting Froehlich into perfection for Day One in two games to zero.
2013 Word Champion and currently 6th-ranked Shahar Shenhar had his take on Esper Control to try and defeat Andreas Ganz with another Black Devotion deck splashing red. A red edge was not enough as Shenhar defeated Ganz without dropping a game.
Nathan Holiday, with a Mono-Blue Devotion list, aimed his perfect hopes against Chad White's blistering Red Aggro deck. Master of Waves with protection from red proved invaluable as Holiday carried through, winning two games to White's zero.
2012 Magic Online Champion Dmitry Butakov brought the atypical Bant Control deck to the affair, with Brandon Bercovich's traditional Mono-Black Devotion standing in the way. Butakov's switch from Esper Control in the previous weekend's 2013 Magic Online Championship proved worthy as he stepped past Bercovich, two games to zero.
There was much more than just the ten running towards undefeated at the end of Day One. Here's the complete breakdown of archetypes from the top twenty-five tables going into Round 9:
|Esper Control & Midrange||10|
(Note: Blue Devotion and Black Devotion include splash variants of the mono-colored versions)
And as a more digestible pie:
At a glance it's clear the cluster of proven decks continues to tighten, with Black Devotion, Esper, and Blue Devotion decks filling nearly two-thirds of the entire top twenty-five tables. Jund Monsters, Azorius Control, and Red Aggro – all decks that have had varying levels of popularity at the last several Grand Prix – remained close behind.
Metagame adjustments can likely explain the dramatic drop in the performance of Boros Burn compared to Grand Prix Beijing, but the surprising star of Day One is the rise of Bant Control featuring favorites like Kiora, the Crashing Wave. It may not be an entirely new archetype for the weekend, but we'll be watching the performance of the new face closely as it is one of the five undefeated decks – joining Esper Control, Mono-Blue Devotion, and two Black Devotion.
We'll return with the complete Day Two metagame breakdown tomorrow morning.