Here's a look at the cards that defined Grand Prix Ottawa.
5. Sagu Mauler
In Khans of Tarkir sealed, you're looking to stretch your mana to get your most powerful effects without giving up too much in the way of consistency. Small wonder, then, that so many Sagu Maulers popped up in decks that got their pilots into Day 2. It asks very little, just a single mana outside of your clan (unless you've got the Mardu), and is a perfectly functional Gray Ogre until you find it. Once it's face-up it ends the game in a hurry. All through Day 1 we saw players touching a fourth or even a fifth color to get access to powerul morphs.
4. Rugged Highlands and Friends
Key in sealed, the Khans multilands become even more important in draft. A common refrain this weekend was "Well, my cards are good, but the mana is terrible." With all those three-color goodies up for grabs, how highly should you be taking mana fixing? Wait too long and you'll risk going without it, or having to make big sacrifices in power to pick them up. There's a secondary benefit to scooping them up early - your fellow drafters may wind up passing on three-color cards to make their own decks more stable. The picks you "sacrifice" early on lands pay dividends down the road.
The talk early in Day 2 was Sam Black's 3-0 performance with Five-Color aggro deck that featured multiple copies of Leaping Master. While it may not be an archetype to force, it's definitely worth paying attention to what the Master does. He's an early aggressive drop that doesn't get obsoleted as the game moves on. Three mana might seem like a lot for the ability, but it means access to a lot of extra damage on stalled boards. Champion Seth Manfield had a whopping four copies in his winning Top 8 Draft deck. Manfield's Leaping Masters poked through for tons of damage and let him close games out of nowhere with Trumpet Blast, Rush of Battle, and Barrage of Boulders.
2. Secret Plans
This little uncommon is one of the most powerful things you can do with your second turn. The toughness boost means you're trumping all morph-based combat without spending a single mana. It also means that once you've set up a line of morphs, it's harder for your opponent to take advantage of the expensive unmorph costs of the heavy hitters. And that's only half the story. Once you start unmorphing things, it's easy to overwhelm your opponent with sheer card advantage. Heaven forbid you stock your deck with cheap unmorph effects like finalist Neal Oliver. Just make sure you leave yourself enough draw steps to deal lethal damage.
Seth Manfield had a plan of his own: to conscript an army of goblins and overrun his opponents. The key to this was backing up all that early aggression with some reach. Trumpet Blast provided some of that, but the real star of the show was the Barrage. Players could set up their defenses with Trumpet Blast in mind, but a ferocious Barrage of Boulders is another matter entirely. The gates are thrown wide and everyone gets in, and the format has very few appropriate answers. Its presence in your deck puts the enemy in a bizarre position: They have to kill you before you can set up a lethal attack, but they can't really out-aggro an aggro deck. Manfield gave a master class in resource management in the final game against Neal Oliver, and Barrage of Boulders was the last word.