Having just returned from Austin, I'm hitting the ground running as we make one last sprint in getting everything read for Pro Tour Amonkhet next week. Of course, many players around the world are doing the same thing as they prepare with the new Standard and Booster Draft formats for the Pro Tour and get ready for a weekend of Grand Prix to test their Limited findings.
We'll take one quick look at what to expect this weekend, and then I'll be spending the rest of this week talking a little bit about last weekend's Magic event at Dreamhack.
Beijing, Bologna, and Richmond
This weekend kicks off a five-week marathon of premier events, with Grand Prix in three continents and the debut of Amonkhet Limited to the Grand Prix circuit. Each of these events will have a $50,000 prize purse, as thousands of players compete this weekend for their share of prize money, Pro Points, Pro Tour invitations, and a Grand Prix trophy.
We'll be broadcasting Grand Prix Richmond live starting Saturday at 10 a.m. local time (ET). That's 7 a.m. PT and 2 p.m. UTC. Coverage of Day Two will begin Sunday at 9:45 a.m. local time (ET). That's 15 minutes sooner than previously announced, so take note!
Our match coverage will bring you every round of Swiss as well as the Top 8, with Time Walk matches (recorded, non-live games of Magic) to keep the action coming to you once the feature matches in each round conclude. Your commentary duos for this event are Marshall Sutcliffe and Jacob Van Lunen alongside Maria Bartholdi and Paul Cheon, so come hang out with us this weekend as we bring you a lot of Amonkhet Sealed Deck and Booster Draft action!
Dreamhack Austin Aftermath
Dreamhack kicked off its series of 2017 North American stops in Austin, Texas, last weekend, with three days of gaming, e-sports, music, and more. This was also the first Dreamhack to feature tabletop gaming, with Cascade Games organizing a multitude of choices throughout the weekend, including Magic, which acted as the centerpiece of the tabletop area.
The tournament stage acted as table 1 for various small-scale tournaments throughout Friday and Saturday, as players competed across different four-round tournaments for prize tickets and for their shot at a 4-0 finish. Players who won the various side events on Friday and Saturday were invited to compete in a 64-player invitational $10,000 Amonkhet Draft event on Sunday. In the invitational tournament, the winner was awarded $5,000; 2nd place $3,000; and finally, 3rd- and 4th-place finishers each walked home with $1,000.
Of course, there weren't 64 events scheduled across two days. The remaining spots in Sunday's $10,000 championship event were awarded to players who consistently did well throughout the weekend via a leaderboard that tracked player performance on Friday and Saturday. Simply participating in an event earned a player a point on the leaderboard, wins awarded three points, and draws awarded one. So even if a player missed 4-0 records in a couple of events, getting a few 3-1s would often be good enough to get into Sunday's invitational event.
This was Cascade's test run for a structure that best suited the convention-style atmosphere that Dreamhack represents. One of the benefits to Dreamhack as an attendee is the ability to jump around from one stage to the next, then to the exhibit hall, then to the free-play console and desktop area, then back to another stage. As a spectator, the event offers flexibility so that people who attend get to choose their options each day. Just looking to see if you can 4-0 an event, but don't want to miss that match between Cloud9 and G2 Esports over at the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive stage? Play in a morning or a noon event, then head over to the right stage in the afternoon. Want to play some Magic, but also some Super Smash Bros. Melee or Street Fighter V in the free-play console area? Select your preferences. Want to just play Magic all weekend and ensure your spot in Sunday's $10,000 event? Well, there's a large line-up of events you can participate in, so play to your heart's content. This new structure gives convention attendees flexibility while still providing everyone with an opportunity to compete for a sweet cash prize on the big day.
The $10,000 championship on Sunday featured a local array of players for Dreamhack's inaugural Magic event, with a few traveling standouts—including artist Noah Bradley and coverage reporter Corbin Hosler—along with familiar premier play faces such as Grand Prix Champion Robert Berni. The tournament started off with eight draft pods, and all players who successfully emerged from their draft pod triumphant earned their way into the final draft of eight players.
At the end of Sunday's first draft, eight players remained. Jesus Sanchez, Christian Keeth, Josh Graves, Corbin Hosler, Travis Dempsey, Patrick Wredberg, Rocky Caitung, and Robert Berni sat down for their final draft of the weekend for their share of the $10,000 prize purse.
After a quick quarterfinals and semifinals, it was just Christian Keeth and Rocky Caitung left in the last match of the tournament. In two quick games, Rocky Caitung emerged as the winner of Dreamhack Austin's Magic event, taking home the 1st-place prize.
The next Dreamhack event to feature tabletop and Magic is Dreamhack Atlanta, which takes place July 21–23 later this year. More updates regarding this event's $10,000 Magic tournament will be available in the coming weeks!