Eight rounds and 1,734 players later and just 10 players were left vying for 9-0 at the end of a brisk Day 1. All 10 occupied the top five tables, so we checked in on each match to see who rolls into Sunday with momentum, and who had to settle for a still impressive 8-1 finish.
Table 1 Stu Somers (Mono Black Devotion) vs. Dean Bilz (Bant Control)
Stu Somers worked his Underworld Connections to perfection in two back and forth games, breaking through in the first match thanks to a timely Bile Blight on Elspeth tokens that were needed to keep Bilz alive. The second game was much faster, but involved just as many lands tapping to draw cards.
Looks like one side of the table was lucky. Or maybe it was the Swamps. Stu Somers (back, right) and Nick Seifert (front, right) both moved to 9-0 with Mono Black Devotion decks.
Table 2 Nick Seifert (Mono Black Devotion) vs. Rael Cortes (Boros Burn)
After two blink-and-you'll-miss-it games, the two ran into something of stalemate in the third game. A Skullcrack kept one Gray Merchant from gaining any ground, but a second sealed the deal. Cortes actually would have won on the spot if he had a second white mana, but with Seifert at 7 life and both Boros Charm and Warleader's Helix in hand, Cortes came up just short.
Table 3 David Ochoa (Br Devotion) vs. Kyle Boggemes (Esper Control)
David Ochoa's Br Devotion deck put up quite a fight, especially after a day of destroying other Azorius-flavored decks, but in the end a pair of Azorius Charms put Boggemes through to Day 2. Flipping both an Erebos, God of the Dead and a Desecration Demon to the top of Ochoa's deck, Boggemes gave himself enough room for both Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Ætherling to do the rest.
Jeffrey Pyka (left) and Kyle Boggemes both ended Day 1 at 9-0.
Table 4 Jeffrey Pyka (Uw Devotion) vs. Paul Woo (Rw Devotion)
Pyka knew his Blue deck would be good against Woo, but he didn't know just how true his blue would do. Rhyming aside, Blue Devotion is pretty good against Red Devotion, and Master of Waves and Domestication featured prominently in elevating Pyka to 9-0.
Table 5 No. 11 Alexander Hayne vs. Louis Kaplan
Look, Louis Kaplan is a good Magician. I used to play with him back in my Iowa days at the same stores as No. 16 Josh McClain. His 8-0 run today surprised approximately no one who actually knows him. But he played against Alexander Hayne, who is as good a bet as anyone these days, especially piloting a close approximation of the deck he won Grand Prix Vancouver with, like, yesterday. Let's not say we didn't see it coming when he wins his 4th GP in a year this weekend. You heard it here first.
Sorry Louis, but he's Alexander Hayne, and he's now 9-0.
No. 11 Alexander Hayne took on all comers today, including a hooded Louis Kaplan, and stands at 9-0.