While the main attraction of a Grand Prix weekend, that is, the actual Grand Prix itself, only begins on Saturday, most attendees spend a big chunk of their Friday at the tournament venue as well. Even discounting the last-chance Grand Prix Trials and the very real possibility of earning two byes for the main event, there's a lot of stuff to do on Day Zero of a Grand Prix. The dealers were happily slinging their cards, Gordian Knot Games offered free Mini Master tournaments, and Rich Hagon hosted his infamous trivia game show—superb entertainment as usual.
Another item on the agenda here in Warsaw was "The Sealed Deck Showdown." This time featuring Pro Tour veterans Marijn Lybaert and Matej Zatlkaj in battle for fame and glory, this program gives spectators a chance to closely watch two of the game's greats build and play a sealed deck. What better way to learn about the intricacies of the Sealed Deck format?
Rich Hagon gave a short introduction and explained the few rules of the contest. Lybaert and Zatlkaj would each have 20 minutes to build a deck from their pool of cards. After a die-roll, Lybaert had won the right to go first ... "And go!"
Lybaert quickly sorted through his cards, commenting on some of the Journey into Nyx cards in particular. "If I'm blue, I'm always going to play Sigiled Starfish," was one piece of advise, another being: "Market Festival? Maybe if I have a lot of seven-drops, but really ... never."
Filmed in front of a live audience who could watch the proceedings on screen and had also been handed copies of Lybaert's pool list, Lybaert asked the crowd for a bit of help. "Show of hands! Who thinks I should play black? Red?" The two colors were soon moved aside. Having opened Bow of Nylea and Courser of Kruphix, Lybaert joked, "I guess, I don't need to ask for green, do I?"
He tried out the three remaining color combinations and green-white was the perfect fit. Said Lybaert, "White has the early creatures, green the late drops. Bow of Nylea is also best in such an aggressive build, and I even get to play Reap What Is Sown!"
Lybaert was happy, but now it was time for his opponent Matej Zatlkaj to try his luck. He, too, laid out all the colors, and gave valuable imput regarding some potential Journey into Nyx additions. "Sightless Brawler won't always do what you want it to do, but it's not a bad card by any means." He said he wasn't a big fan of Feast of Dreams, though he wouldn't discount it either. "What I'm really excited about is Doomwake Giant. It's an awesome card, a strong rare, and exactly what I need against Marijn's smaller creatures," he said, immediately adding: "No spoilers!"
Black and white offered yet more solid to strong cards, including two Wingsteed Riders, an Akroan Skyguard, two copies of Lash of the Whip, and even multi-colored goodies in Triad of Fates and Odunos River Trawler, so Zatlkaj cut the usually long-winded process of color selection short. "Tomorrow, you'll have more time and you definitely should try out as many combinations as possible. But here, with just 20 minutes, I going to make this quick: black-white it is," he announced.
There was a little more back and forth between the audience and Zatlkaj regarding a few card choices, and then it was done; the two contestants were ready to determine the winner. Their match was caught on camera as well, and if you want to see who won, check out our video coverage stream!