Following the Grand Prix weekend, we'll be heading into a tournament of another kind this weekend, as 73 countries get set for the very first round of World Magic Cup Qualifiers in 2016. After that, we'll dive into some past reflections, notably the aftermath of GP Prague and Columbus, along with May's Player of the Month!
2016 World Magic Cup Qualifiers—Round 1!
This year's very first round of World Magic Cup Qualifiers take place this weekend, as 73 countries determine who will be their first representative in the 2016 World Magic Cup.
As a recap, players who compete in a World Magic Cup Qualifier receive a promo Abrupt Decay (while supplies last).
The Top 8 competitors of a World Magic Cup Qualifier will also receive this playmat, featuring artwork from Eldritch Moon.
We'll be hosting the Top 8 Standard decklists of some select countries in next week's column, along with the beginnings of the World Magic Cup team list following this weekend's results. Be sure to check back for both!
Full information on this year's World Magic Cup Qualifiers can be found on the event info page.
GP Prague and Columbus Aftermath
The 2015–16 premier play season heads toward its final few weeks as we approach Pro Tour Eldritch Moon in early August, and Grand Prix Prague and Columbus kicked things off in a big way.
The Highlight Reel of Last Weekend
Prague featured some gains from Alexander Hayne and Lukas Blohon with their Top 8 appearances, putting them solidly in the running for seats at the 2016 World Championship despite being about a mile behind the current Pro Points leader.
Speaking of the current Pro Points leader, Seth Manfield decided to step away from winning yet another Grand Prix so that someone else could have a chance. Either that was very nice of him, or he just finally cooled off a bit in the final stretch. The Top 8 featured no major shifts in Worlds races, though it did highlight a couple Legacy specialists (such as Miracles pilot Joe Lossett and GP Seattle-Tacoma 2015 winner Jarvis Yu with an updated Lands deck).
Circling back to Prague, I've received some feedback on the new video coverage format that the team followed through on, and the reception was generally positive! As always, we follow along with conversations on social media, so please continue to share your thoughts and we'll keep track of all of it on our end.
As Blake mentioned in Monday's Daily Magic Update, you can catch all of the action from GP Prague's video coverage in our Twitch channel's highlights page. The quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final match can also be found on YouTube.
As we approach the home stretch before Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, I'm going to be providing some quick updates on our end-of-season races. I'll also be highlighting Pro Tour Players Club updates, congratulating the players who have locked in statuses for the 2016–17 premier play season.
Player of the Year: Perhaps the most exciting race is also the one with the least amount of drama until Pro Tour time. Currently in the lead for the 2015–16 Player of the Year race is reigning World Champion Seth Manfield, who currently has an 11-point lead over Owen Turtenwald and a whopping 23-point lead over the four players currently tied at No. 3. The only chance Seth is going to be leap-frogged in this race is if he has a rough run in the next Pro Tour and Turtenwald goes deep, but never say never. There's a reason Turtenwald held No. 1 in the world for as long as he did.
Rookie of the Year: Unless Ricky Chin has one heck of a finish at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, this one's likely going to newcomer Oliver Tiu, who not only has Platinum status in the Pro Club on lockdown by simply competing in the next Pro Tour, but also has a 16-point Rookie of the Year lead.
Grand Prix Master: Here's where things start to heat up. Currently this race has a tie in Pro Points between Japan's Tomoharu Saito (Hareruya boss and deck photographer extraordinaire) and USA's Brian Braun-Duin (two-time Grand Prix Champion and craftsman of comical troll tweets). Currently, the Premier Event Invitation Policy has this race falling on Planeswalker Points as a tiebreaker, where Braun-Duin leads, so if things stay the same he will earn a seat at the 2016 World Championship.
Here's a hint, though: things are unlikely to stay the same.
Both players are hitting up multiple GPs in the coming weeks, and Reid Duke is only 1 point behind both of the leaders, so this race is likely to come down to the last GP weekend of the season.
The remaining races for 2016 World Championship seats are still anyone's game. While the top players in the 2015–16 Player of the Year race (i.e., anyone above 50 points) are the front runners at the moment, the Pro Tour in Sydney is going to shake this up. We'll take a much closer look at all of the races for the 2016 World Championship as we get closer to Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.
Pro Club Updates
And finally, here are the players who have reached milestones in the Pro Tour Players Club for the 2016–17 season. Kudos on your great performances, and we'll see more of you soon, I'm sure!
- Steve Hatto
- Ashraf Abou Omar
- Phillip Braverman
- Charles League
- Dan Musser
- Eli Loveman
May's Player of the Month Is...?
With all the excitement of last few weeks, we still have a Player of the Month to crown for the month of May, and there are a few contenders for the slot this time around.
First up is Seth Manfield, the reigning World Champion, who kicked off the month of May by reminding everyone that he was No. 1 in the world for a reason by building a white-black control deck the night before the GP kicked off. Had Costa Rica—which he also won—taken place within the month of May, Seth would be a slam dunk choice for Player of the Month, pocketing a cool $20,000 with two Grand Prix trophies. However, it's not that easy.
The thing is, while Seth spent the month of May winning his fourth piece of Grand Prix hardware, Pro Tour Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy closed out the month with his sixth Grand Prix trophy in his whopping 21st Top 8 appearance. While he didn't exactly win this title with a deck built the night before, Lévy's Green-White Tokens build featured some unusual tech: two copies of Chandra, Flamecaller, and Oath of Nissa as the only feasible means of casting them.
So who's it going to be for May? Are you on #TeamSeth or #TeamRaph? Use the hashtag #MTGPOM and voice your opinion, or let me know directly over the weekend. May's Player of the Month will be crowned next week, so don't wait to let me and the world know who you think it should be!