The Canadian Magic community has experienced a renaissance of sorts over the last few years. The success of players like Jon Stern, Shaun McLaren, and Alexander Hayne has sparked a surge in the popularity of competitive events in The Great White North. With just thwo rounds of swiss remaining, two familiar Canadian players managed to battle their way to the top of the standings. Pascal Maynard and Lucas Siow have both had their share of Grand Prix success. This weekend, they have an opportunity to keep the trophy in Canada by winning this event.
I sat down with Maynard and Siow to talk about nationalism, Magic, and recent growth of the Canadian community.
Jacob Van Lunen: "When did you start playing Magic? Competitively?"
Pascal Maynard: "I started playing during Fifth Dawn and started going to tournaments immediately."
Lucas Siow: "Future Sight was my first set. I also got into tournaments right away."
JVL: "There aren't many Canadian Grand Prix events, and even fewer in this part of the country. What would it mean to you to win Grand Prix Ottawa?"
PM: "To be honest. I just want to get back on the Pro Tour."
LS: "Obviously it would be cool to get on the national team and have people recognize me and stuff, but the first step is just getting on the Pro Tour again."
JVL: "Canada has produced a lot of great Limited minds over the years. What is it about the Canadian Magic community that lends itself to producing such good Draft and Sealed Deck players?"
LS: "I think it snowballs, Richie [Hoaen] is really good at drafting, and the Canadian players that play with him are bound to get a lot better. The best Canadian players always travel to help each other prepare. Pascal, Alexander Hayne, and Jon Stern all came to Toronto and drafted with us before a PT once."
PM: "Lucas said it pretty well."
JVL: "The Canadian Magic community has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. What happened that made competitive Magic so popular here?"
PM: "Alexander Hayne winning the Pro Tour made the scene explode."
LS: "Again, it snowballs. Magic got pretty popular so two stores opened up. Then those stores grew the community to the point where the demand was there for more stores to open up. We have great tournament organizers. Kelly Ackerman managed to put together two PTQs with over 400 people and put together a lot of big events that encouraged players to get more entrenched in the competitive side of the game."
In a twist of fate, Maynard and Siow found themselves paired against one another in the penultimate round of swiss, a match where the winner would secure a spot in the Top 8. The two friends would be forced to battle for the opportunity to defend their country's honor in the Top 8.
In the first game, Siow got off to a fast start on the play with a pair of two drops. Maynard's deck seemed well-equipped to keep up, though. The pace of play was lightning fast.
The tides of battle turned and Siow looked to have things locked up when his second copy of Mystic of the Hidden Way was unmorphed. Maynard didn't have a single removal spell, let alone two, and the unblockable pair of monks were enough to take the game home.
Siow 1 - 0 Maynard
In the second game, Maynard got on the table quickly with a pair of morphs, Alabaster Kirin, and Jeskai Student before Siow had a single nonland permanent in play. Siow tried to hold Maynard's forces at bay with Bear's Companion, but Maynard added more flying power to the board.
The flyers kept coming, and Siow was quickly losing the race. Maynard unmorphed Krumar Bond-Kin to block and trade with Siow's bear token, but Siow had Dragonscale Boon and was able to accomplish a very nice tempo swing.
Things looked locked up for Maynard, but Siow set up a perfect turn where he baited Maynard into playing at the perfect pace for Siow to attack for exactly lethal with an unblockable team thanks to a sideboarded copy of Barrage of Boulders.
Lucas Siow wins 2-0 to likely secure his place in Top 8 here at Grand Prix Ottawa!