We came to Miami expecting a good show, and we were not disappointed. Reid Duke gave us an epic show as he played some incredible matches in the Top 8 on the way to taking down his second Grand Prix title here at Grand Prix Miami 2013! In the finals, Duke dropped his first game to Josh McClain's Junk Reanimator deck and mulliganned to five in his second, further increasing the tension in the Feature Match area. As Duke drew back from the brink of defeat thanks to Olivia Voldaren, the crowd erupted as he pulled out a game that most people had written off. Then, in the final game of the tournament, Duke once again relied on the Vampiress to lift him over McClain and on to his second Grand Prix title ever.

As always, Standard proved its incredible diversity. Twenty-six different archetypes made Day 2 of Grand Prix Miami, an utterly astounding number, and seven different archetypes advanced through to the Top 8. A few of the archetypes we saw in force this weekend were considered dead, such as Bant Control, the third most-played deck in Day 2. Others continued trends, such as Junk Reanimator and Bant Hexproof, both of which have shown up in overwhelming numbers in the past two Standard Grand Prix.

In addition to diverse, Standard is clearly a very skill-intensive format. Looking at the top of the standings throughout the weekend, there were always a bevy of big names vying for the Top 8. In the end, Matt Costa, Reid Duke, and Brad Nelson, all Grand Prix winners, made it through to the elimination rounds. Nelson's Junk Aristocrats deck defeated Matt Costa's UWR Flash deck in a tight quarterfinal match before losing one of the best matches in recent Magic history to Reid Duke's Jund Midrange deck in the semifinals. The presence of such high-caliber players near the top of the standings all weekend resulted in some incredibly memorable matches, from topdecked Kessig Wolf Runs to double Thundermaw Hellkite stealing games.

In the end, Duke won the whole event with his trusty Jund Midrange deck, the deck he has stood behind for quite some time now. It has always managed to put up a good finish, but Jund hasn't ever really pushed through for a win the way Duke knew it could. With his victory here, he has proven not only himself, but his deck's prowess as well. Congratulations to Reid Duke, Grand Prix Miami 2013 champion!

top 8 bracket


(1) Brad Nelson

(8) Matthew Costa

(4) Samuel Tharmaratnam

(5) Reid Duke

(2) Josh McClain

(7) Christoffer Larsen

(3) Valentin Mackl

(6) Peter Ingram


Brad Nelson, 2-1

Reid Duke, 2-0

Josh McClain, 2-0

Valentin Mackl, 2-1


Reid Duke, 2-1

Josh McClain, 2-1


Reid Duke, 2-1




1. Reid Duke $3,500
2. Josh McClain $2,300
3. Brad Nelson $1,500
4. Valentin Mackl $1,500
5. Samuel Tharmaratnam $1,000
6. Peter Ingram $1,000
7. Christoffer Larsen $1,000
8. Matthew Costa $1,000

pairings, results, standings


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 – Players

by Event Coverage Staff

Reid Duke

Age: 23
Hometown: Sugar Loaf, New York
Occupation: Professional Magic Player

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Six previous GP Top 8s, one win. 2011 Magic Online Champion

Where do you usually play Magic?
Big tournaments around the globe! Also Toywiz in Nanuet, New York.

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Rakdos (Jund!). I like beating the pulp out of blue players.

What deck did you play and why?
Jund – Old Faithful. It plays a huge number of the format's best cards, has no weaknesses, and is particularly strong against creature decks.

How did you prepare for this event?
Stuck with Jund for many months across many tournaments. Played Magic Online all week.

What has been your best card this weekend?
Kessig Wolf Run (See Round 11 against Brad Nelson)

Matt Costa

Age: 20
Hometown: Eastham, MA
Occupation: Student/This

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Pro Tour Dark Ascension Top 8, 5 GP Top 8s with one win

Where do you usually play Magic?
Dave Shiels's house, Magic Online

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Azorius. It's blue/white.

What deck did you play and why?
UWR Flash. I've played it since RTR was released, and it is very good against creature decks.

How did you prepare for this event?
Played SCG Open Philly last weekend, played lots on Magic Online. Large volume of games over the last four months.

What has been your best card this weekend?
Thundermaw Hellkite, Sphinx's Revelation with an honorable mention to Hallowed Fountain and Steam Vents

Brad Nelson

Age: 27
Hometown: Mandan, ND
Occupation: SCG Content provider

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
POY 2010, 2 PT Top 8, 6 GP Top 8

Where do you usually play Magic?
On the interwebs and SCG Opens

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Golgari. I did not choose Golgari; Golgari chose me.

What deck did you play and why?
Junk Aristocrats. IT'S INSANE!

How did you prepare for this event?
Magic Online

What has been your best card this weekend?
Garruk Relentless

Christoffer Larsen

Age: 24
Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark
Occupation: Chef in the Navy, Team Rocket Prospect

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 10 GP Utrecht (Team 2 ½ Men), 5 Pro Tour appearances, local prerelease champion 2x!!

Where do you usually play Magic?
Magic Online, weekends in Copenhagen

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?

What deck did you play and why?
Gruul Aggro (cheapest in the tier 1)

How did you prepare for this event?
I didn't (talked it through with Joel Larsson and Michael Bonde)

What has been your best card this weekend?
Mad-Cap-Skillzzz! (Why did you come to the States? Came to game!!!)

Peter Ingram

Age: 23
Hometown: Wantagh, NY
Occupation: Student/Big Timer

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 50 PT Honolulu, Top 100 PT Kyoto, Day 2 4/5 PTs

Where do you usually play Magic?
My house. The Comic Book Depot. Empire Gaming. Mark's Comics and Collectibles.

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
I'm not sure... Azorius?

What deck did you play and why?
Naya Zoo. I won a grinder with it and the deck is very good/resilient.

How did you prepare for this event?
SCG Philadelphia, Grinder the night before.

What has been your best card this weekend?
Domri Rade, Thundermaw Hellkite, or Bonfire of the Damned

Valentin Mackl

Age: 21
Hometown: Wien, Austria
Occupation: Schoolboy

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Played a couple of PTs, far over 9000 GP Day 2s.

Where do you usually play Magic?
Spielroom Wien

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Izzet because Dimir lost their evilness...

What deck did you play and why?
Bant Hexproof, because two Austrians recently got good results with it.

How did you prepare for this event?
Steal a decklist from Thomas Holzinger! I love U XOXO= BFF!

What has been your best card this weekend?
Mending Touch

Josh McClain

Age: 23
Hometown: Iowa City, IA
Occupation: Student, employee at Critical Hit Games

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
GP Chicago T16, played on a few Pro Tours.

Where do you usually play Magic?
Critical Hit Games

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Azorius. I don't seem to play blue decks anymore, but UW has always been my favorite.

What deck did you play and why?
Junk Rites. I'd played it earlier in the season and I didn't like any of the newer decks in the format.

How did you prepare for this event?
Tested on Magic Online, discussed the list with Joe Demestrio and Lewk Faley.

What has been your best card this weekend?
Acidic Slime

Samuel Tharmaratnam (Sammy T)

Age: 27
Hometown: Oakville, Ontario
Occupation: Marketing MBA student

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
GP Toronto 11th, GP Pittsburgh 10th, PT Paris T50, GP Atlanta T24

Where do you usually play Magic?
Comic Connection in Oakville. Go Rich!

What guild are you? Why did you choose that guild?
Izzet. Draw cards and out-tempo opponents... what more do you want?

What deck did you play and why?
Jacob Van Lunen's UWR Tempo deck. Read his article and took apart my hexproof deck. I sleeved up the deck and only changed a few cards. The man's a genius.

How did you prepare for this event?
Drove an hour to get the deck from Peter Sonegra at Card Advantage, read articles, and kept up on Magic Online.

What has been your best card this weekend?
#1 card: Thundermaw Hellkite. #2 card: see #1 card.

Top 8 – Decklist

by Event Coverage Staff

Brad Nelson's Junk Aristocrats

Download Arena Decklist

Matthew Costa's Blue/White/Red Flash

Download Arena Decklist

Reid Duke's Jund

Download Arena Decklist

Christoffer Larsen's Gruul Aggro

Download Arena Decklist

Peter Ingram's Domri Naya

Download Arena Decklist

Josh McClain's Junk Rites

Download Arena Decklist

Valentin Mackl's Bant Auras

Download Arena Decklist

Samuel Tharmaratnam's Blue/White/Red Flash

Download Arena Decklist

Quarterfinals – Reid Duke vs. Samuel Tharmaratnam

by Jacob Van Lunen

Samuel Tharmaratnam, a Toronto native, came into the second day of competition with two losses. After six rounds and six wins in a row, he found himself facing off in the Top 8 against Platinum pro, Reid Duke. Duke wasted no time taking advantage of Samuel's suboptimal draws and quickly secured his spot in the Semifinals.

Both players sat quietly, head in hands, while studying the other's decklist. Tharmaratnam occasionally glanced up at Duke. On the other side of the table, Brad Nelson and Matt Costa joked with one another.

Duke cracked a smile and looked over at Nelson, "You're going to look down at five lands, Young Wolf, and Tragic Slip. KEEP!"

All four at the table laughed.

Duke and Tharmaratnam started chatting.

"Where you from Sam?"


"That's right by me. I'm from New York. I came straight from Las Vegas to get here, though."

In the first game Tharmaratnam failed to find a fourth land, he used Pillar of Flame to deal with Duke's Huntmaster of the Fells while he dug with Think Twice and Azorius Charm, but, again on his fifth turn, there was no land in sight.

Duke laid it on thick with a Thragtusk and it seemed that Tharmaratnam was falling too far behind.

But when Duke sent the Thragtusk and Wolf into the red zone, Tharmaratnam had a trick up his sleeve. Augur of Bolas blocked the Thragtusk and Restoration Angel came down to blink and save the Augur. Suddenly, it looked like Tharmaratnam might be able to dig his way out.

Olivia Voldaren

Duke was all gas, though. Olivia Voldaren came down the for Jund master and Tharmaratnam, still unable to find a fifth land, found himself drained of blood.

"Sorry about the bad luck."

"It happens."

Both players remained dead quiet while sideboarding. Duke eventually offered up his deck, "good luck."

Tharmaratnam knew the tempo game was important and he countered Duke's Farseek immediately on contact.

Tharmaratnam was able to curve his Restoration Angel into Thundermaw Hellkite, but Duke had a Putrefy and Liliana of the Veil to halt any aggression the Canadian could muster. Garruk, Primal Hunter joined the Black planeswalker and it was clear that Duke was very far ahead.

Duke and his good buddy, the Primal Hunter, systematically tore Tharmaratnam apart, ending the Toronto native's great run through day 2.

Quarterfinals – Valentin Mackl vs. Peter Ingram

by Justin Vizaro

Before the start of Game 1, a playful Mackl and the obliging Ingram's exchange foreshadowed the "just 1 short" theme of their entire match. Little did Ingram know that his Naya Zoo deck would fall 1 point short of besting Mackl's Bant Aura deck, but he wouldn't let him take it without an intense third game.

Ingram: "You don't want the extra card?"

Mackl: "No."

Ingram: "Remember that."


Mackle: "That's not good. Now I want the Extra Card."

*Mulligan to 5*

Mackl: "Still going to be enough."

Game 1 between Ingram and Mackl played out in a way that most would come to expect from this matchup, with both sides exchanging blows in a race to 20 points of damage.

Mackl's mulligan to 5 on the play proved to be just less than necessary in Game 1, as Ingram was able to race Mackl's Invisible Stalker with two Boros Reckoners, a Voice of Resurgence, and an Avacyn's Pilgrim. The 3-5-7 growing-power Stalker and two shocks from Ingram's lands left him teetering at 1 before finishing Mackl's 13-point life total with a swing for "exactsies" with a little help from Ghor-Clan Rampager.

Moving into Game 2, Ingram tested the waters yet again, tempting Mackl with the opportunity to change his decision from Game 1.

Ingram: "I'm going to ask you again, do you want the extra card?"

Mackle: "No. This time this is going to work... with the power of imagination."

*Ingram Mulligan to 6*

Mackl opened Game 2 with the strong opening that Bant Aura decks prefer, allowing him to choose between Loxodon Smiter and Geist of St. Traft on his second turn. After playing the elephant and seeing only a Temple Garden from Ingram, Mackl shifted into "get there" mode, Slamming Geist and adding Rancor to Smiter on Turn 3, dropping Ingram to 14.

In an attempt to battle back into the game with his own Smiter on Turn 3, Ingram looked at Mackl's board and noticed an opening for Miracled Bonfire if he could lift Mackl's 6/4 during combat.

Mackl: "You're at 14?"

Ingram: "Yeah, am I dead?"

Mackle traded elephants with Ingram, dropping him to 5, and added Spectral Flight to Geist next turn to close the game.

Mackl: "So it's your choice- do you want the extra card now?"

Ingram: "Nah."

Before heading into Game 3, Ingram had this to say about his matchup with Bant Auras:

"This is my 4th time playing it (Bant Auras) in this event- I'm 3-0, but that is misrepresentative, the matchup is 50/50; unflinching courage is crippling, and his Hexproof creatures are devastating."

An incredibly strong opening from Ingram left him with Flinthoof Boar, Loxodon Smiter, and Boros Reckoner in sequence against Mackl's Avacyn's Pilgrim into Silverblade Paladin line of play. Ingram's eyes widened as he braced for a potential Turn 4 Unflinching Courage from Mackl, which promptly followed. After taking a solid 8-point life swing from the Paladin, Ingram lost another step to Fog during his attack, leaving him with two Boros Reckoners on the board to answer Mackl's Paladin.

Mackl provided the necessary wings to put his Paladin out of range, but a Selesnya Charm during combat kept Ingram's dreams alive... or so he thought. While he hung his head expecting Simic Charm, he instead saw Mackl use Ray of Revelation on his own Unflinching Courage to shrink Paladin to a 4/4 creature. This left Ingram alive at 4, with the opportunity to potentially finish Mackl the following turn.

Ingram's draw phase showed him Unflinching Courage, which he promptly glued to his Elephant. Attacking with the entire team left him at 10, but his 15 damage was just 1 point shy of delivering the full 16 and forcing Mackl to block with Pilgrim. Mackl accepted 15 points of damage, untapped at 1 life, added Unflinching Courage to the Paladin, and moved to the Semi-Finals of GP Miami.

Quarterfinals – Brad Nelson vs. Matt Costa

by Nate Price

Whether you like your threats big and concentrated or small and numerous, this Quarterfinals match between Brad Nelson and Matt Costa had something to keep you entertained.

While Nelson admitted that this matchup wasn't the greatest, his Junk Aristocrats deck was able to pull ahead of Matt Costa's UWR Flash deck thanks to the powerful role-Gavony Township, a card that Nelson hadn't really gotten to use all weekend long. The power of the land combined with a slew of tokens from Lingering Souls was able to wrest two of three games away from Costa's Thundermaw Hellkites, giving Nelson a spot in the semifinals.

Matt Costa

Game 1 went to the little guys thanks to an unlikely hero in Nelson's deck: Gavony Township. With the power of his Township, Nelson was able to convert the dispersed threat of his fliers into a consolidated punch that just utterly blew Costa apart.

"I'm blown out," Costa said with a smile. "I've never had to deal with that."

Nelson cast Lingering Souls three times over the early turns of the games, but never had a chance to send his creatures in to attack. A Restoration Angel played the part of the perfect defender, preventing Nelson from ever having a profitable attack. With a Township in hand, the play clearly became to ride the uncounterable land to victory. He chose to sit back for a few turns while he built up enough mana to activate his Gavony Township, turning his homegrown army into a real threat to end the game quickly.

Now 2/2s, the Spirits began to attack. One got taken down by the Angel, but the other two hit home, knocking Costa to 10 before refilling his Spirits with yet one more Lingering Souls. Costa stemmed the bleeding once again with a Snapcaster Mage to return his Pillar of Flame, reducing Nelson to three 2/2s and two 1/1s. When Nelson attacked, the Township pumped them all once more. Costa survived by blocking a 3/3 and killing another with Azorius Charm, but a Tragic Slip allowed Nelson to get rid of the Angel for good. The next attack sealed the game.

The second game came down to Costa's big threats, and he won out of absolutely nowhere. Costa had enough early removal to stem the tide of men from Nelson, but he found his Sphinx's Revelations under assault from a pair of Duresses. In response to the second one, Costa sighed and fired off his second Revelations for two cards, all he could afford. He traded it in for an Island and a Thundermaw Hellkite, which Nelson was quick to make note of.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped

Knowing the Hellkite was on the horizon, Nelson added Varolz, the Scar-Striped to his team. This let him add a counter to one of his tokens, keeping it alive when the Hellkite hit the table on the next turn. He also added a Doomed Traveler, giving himself an instant-speed way of producing a Spirit token. He then just unloaded the big guns onto the board, adding a Garruk Relentless and Obzedat, Ghost Council, to his side. This gave Costa a chance to fire off a Sphinx's Revelation for five, completely refilling.

"Jeez," Nelson said as he watched Costa fill his hand and go back to 12. This put Costa back into the lead, as the damage he had dealt with an early Snapcaster Mage combined with the damage Nelson had taken from his own lands had really added up. With Nelson on 12, Costa untapped and dropped a second Hellkite onto the board. When he moved to attack, Nelson sacrificed his Doomed Traveler to make a blocker, but Costa had an Izzet Staticaster in from his sideboard specifically to deal with Spirit tokens. With Nelson's only blocker removed, the Hellkites dropped him low enough that a Searing Spear could finish him off.

With things tied at one game apiece, Nelson once again relied on his all-star Gavony Township to carry him to victory. He managed to draw out two early Pillars of Flame with a pair of Cartel Aristocrats, setting up a much better board state to come. Costa knew that Nelson was setting him up, but he had no choice but to kill them while he could with a shake of his head. Now feeling in the clear, Nelson followed with a Voice of Resurgence. Normally, you'd expect this to stay in play against a deck like UWR Flash that just lives in the opponent's end step. Instead, Nelson more or less immediately sacrificed it to a Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

"I took the most aggressive, 'I'm going to look like the biggest idiot if this fails' line I could have possibly taken that last game, and it paid off," Nelson said after the fact. "I could have just sat back on the Gavony Township and tried to grind it out, but I wanted to get the Varolz big so that I could attack him on the next turn if he drew a Hellkite."

Costa didn't have the Hellkite, but the play was effective nonetheless. Costa didn't have any way of dealing with the now large, and getting larger by the minute Varolz. Gavony Township continued to add counters to the Troll, and it soon began to eat whatever Costa could throw in front of it. He was desperately trying to draw into an Azorius Charm or an Oblivion Ring...literally anything to deal with the ever-growing Varolz, but time soon ran out. On the last possible turn, right after Nelson had added an Obzedat to his side of the table, Costa's deck coughed up an Oblivion Ring. It was too little much too late. He conceded the match and wished Nelson luck in the rest of the Top 8.

Brad Nelson

"The only times I really got Township this weekend were these two games," Nelson said after the match.

"It's one of his only ways to really beat me," Costa shrugged to the agreement of Nelson. "It's easily his best card in the matchup."

"It's weird. I'm pretty sure that I was like 80 or 90% to win Game 2 from the point where I first Duressed him," Nelson told me, "But I feel like he was a big favorite from about the same point in the last game. They were very weird games."

Semifinals – Reid Duke vs. Brad Nelson

by Nate Price

The match may have been three games, but these two superstars waited until the final possible moment to bring out the biggest of their fireworks in this incredibly thrilling Semifinals match.

In the end, Reid Duke used a combination of Kessig Wolf Run and what Nelson described as "the best Curse of Death's Hold ever" as he piloted his Jund Midrange deck to a 2-1 victory over Brad Nelson's Junk Aristocrats deck. These two had played earlier in the Swiss, and Duke's Kessig Wolf Run off the top of the deck was one of the more memorable topdecks in recent Magic play.

Brad Nelson

"Man, you drew a 2-of in our match earlier," Nelson exclaimed in mock disbelief!

"Just wait until you see what I draw this time," Duke coolly replied with a sly smile.

The first two games of the match were fairly one-sided. The first resulted in a steamrolling by Nelson after Duke decided not to Putrefy a Skirsdag High Priest as soon as it hit play, a decision he would regret.

"That's one of the worst plays I've made in a while," he admitted. "I incorrectly thought he'd need something like a sacrifice outlet and a second creature to turn it on the next turn, but I hadn't considered that he could just sacrifice the Voice of Resurgence in play and the Elemental token would give him enough creatures to use the ability. Not my finest moment."

After getting steamrolled in Game 1, Duke did the honors in Game 2. An early Farseek powered Duke into the meat of his curve early, moving from Olivia Voldaren to Thragtusk to Huntmaster of the Fells. Nelson was much slower to get on the board, very unusual for his deck of mostly one- and two-drops. He didn't do anything at all until a Garruk Relentless ate Olivia Voldaren. His next turn brought him two Voice of Resurgences, but by this point he was all but done in. Duke then deftly used Curse of Death's Hold and Tragic Slip to wip Nelson's board, and he conceded.

"Well that was painless," Nelson laughed between games.

"Just like our last match," Duke smiled with a nod, "Two convincing ones and then a close one."

The final game was one of the most interesting matches I've watched in a while. Duke fell behind early to an aggressive start from Nelson. On turn five, he faced a difficult choice. Facing down a pair of Lingering Souls tokens, a Wolf token from Garruk Relentless, Cartel Aristocrats, and Varolz, the Scar-Striped, he had to decide between playing Curse of Death's Hold and Thragtusk. At 16 life, his life total wasn't an issue, yet he decided to gum up the board with a Thragtusk. Given a similar option between the Curse and Huntmaster of the Fells on the next turn, he once again chose the creature over the enchantment. His defensive plan worked, as Nelson restricted his attacks to just his fliers and the 1/1 Wolf token from Garruk the Veil-Cursed. Duke's life total hardly changed at all.

"In my experience with these decks, Bonfire of the Damned is at its most effective when both players have a big board," Duke explained. "Additionally, I really felt like I needed to get a creature into play to prevent him from going big with Garruk. If I could get him to transform it, he'd be stuck making 1/1 Wolves that I could immediately clear out with the Curse, giving me a path to Garruk."

With Garruk transformed and up to two loyalty, Nelson brought out the big guns. Sacrificing a Spirit token, he searched his library for Obzedat, Ghost Council, immediately dropping it into play. It was a clock, plain and simple. While it couldn't attack, it was set to kill Duke in eight turns without any outside interference.

Then the Curse hit.

"That card, man," Nelson said with a sigh and a shake of the head.

It killed two of Nelson's tokens, halving his force in play. Duke then played an Overgrown Tomb untapped, leaving three up, sending a very clear signal to Nelson. Nelson read the scene right and chose to sacrifice his Obzedat to his Garruk, grabbing another Obzedat. Even though Duke only had one card in hand, he put him on the Putrefy in his hand and made the brilliant play. He then scavenged the Obzedat onto his Aristocrats and attacked for 8, just larger than the power Duke had in play, and just less than the life he had left.

Reid Duke

Duke got defensive, chumping with his tokens one at a time. Duke peeled a Tragic Slip off the top of his deck to go with the Putrefy in hand, but he had to consider the Obzedat lurking in Nelson's hand before he just blew them both to kill the Aristocrat. With two removal spells at his disposal, he went ahead and fired off the Putrefy at the Aristocrat.

"Man, if you've got another one of those right now, that'd be so good," Nelson said as he sacrificed his Varolz to keep it alive.

Nelson could just shake his head in disbelief as Duke revealed the Tragic Slip in his hand. Nelson's board was clear, and Duke had a Kessig Wolf Run. Even with Obzedat hitting play on Nelson's turn, Duke surged ahead with a massive attack for 11 on the following turn. He was threatening lethal on the turn following, very lethal. Nelson drew a Garruk Relentless to kill one of the creatures in play, leaving Duke with only one, but it was still enough. With a rip of a land from the top of his deck, Duke was able to attack for exactly lethal thanks to the -1/-1 his Curse of Death's Hold gave the Obzedat.

"That Curse, man," Nelson laughed. "Best. Curse. Ever."

Finals – Reid Duke vs. Josh Mcclain

by Jacob Van Lunen

After 18 grueling matchs of competitive Magic only one competitor remains. Reid Duke uses Olivia Voldaren to defeat Josh McClain and secure the title of Grand Prix Miami Champion!

Both players studied the other's decklist before the match.

Duke had a surprised look on his face, "How's Trostani been for you?"

McClain looked around as if to point out the fact that he was in the finals of a 1258 player event, "pretty good," he nodded.

Josh Mcclain

In the first game, Reid Duke had trouble hitting land drops while Josh McClain's Thragtusk was being blinked by Restoration Angel. All Duke could do was try to abuse a pair of Huntmaster of the Fells triggers with a Putrefy in hand.

Duke eventually found a fifth land, but McClain was already chaining a pair of Angel of Serenity.

The inevitability and card advantage being generated, not to mention the damage being incurred was too much for Duke, whose deck wouldn't cooperate.

Both players started the second game with a mulligan.

Duke shrugged with a smile, "We're even I guess."

They weren't, though. Duke looked at a six-card hand with no lands and was forced to go down to five cards on the play.

Duke looked unenthused, "I'll keep."

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice

McClain got on the board first with Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. The Green/White Mythic Legend was too big for the Bonfire of the Damned that Reid drew the following turn.

He may have been on five cards, but he wasn't going down without a fight. Duke wrecked Mcclain's hand with Rakdos's Return, leaving him with only one card.

Things turned around completely in Duke's favor when Mcclain cast Arbor Elf. This gave Duke the opportunity to Bonfire for one and morbid Tragic Slip the Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. Duke put a final nail in the coffin with Garruk, Primal Hunter, drawing six cards and easily giving himself the necessary tools to win the game.

With just one game left to decide the winner of Grand Prix Miami both players shuffled quietly.

Duke present his deck with a strong exhale, "good luck!"

McClain nodded, "you too."

McClain had an early Voice of Resurgence in the third game while Duke used Farseek to accelerate into Huntmaster of the Fells. McClain one-upped his opponent with a fourth turn Unburial Rites targeting Thragtusk.

Olivia Voldaren from Duke meant that he was now solidly in control of the game. Josh would need to get into Angel of Serenity range quickly, or the Vampire Legend would take over the game.

Mcclain could stay in the game, though. Another Thragtusk came down and it seemed like he might be able to race Duke's Legendary Vampire.

Reid Duke

Acidic Slime came down next and prevented Duke from being able to shoot and steal creatures with Olivia the following turn. Duke refused to attack, instead leaving back his Olivia Voldaren to dominate the battlefield.

McClain found another Acidic Slime, but Duke's Huntmaster of the Fells, Olivia Voldaren, and freshly miracled Bonfire of the Damned were enough to close the game in two big swings.

Congratulations to Reid Duke, the Grand Prix Miami Champion!

Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Miami 2013

by Jacob Van Lunen
Olivia Voldaren

5. Olivia Voldaren

Reid Duke used this legendary vampire to systematically tear his opponent to shreds in the third game of the finals. Most decks are playing four Pillar of Flame now, and little other removal, meaning that Olivia will likely live to dominate a game. It doesn't take more than a turn or two for Olivia Voldaren to take a game over all by herself.

Voice of Resurgence

4. Voice of Resurgence

Voice of Resurgence made huge waves again this weekend, making an appearance in the majority of the Top 8 decks. In a feature match, Brad Nelson used a removal spell on his own creature to shrink his Elemental Token to a 4/4 and counter his opponent's Selesnya Charm to secure victory. Bant Control and Bant Auras made up about 30% of the Day 2 field here in Miami largely on the back of the Green/White Mythic. The card was featured in over half of the decks that made it to the elimination rounds.

Thundermaw Hellkite

3. Thundermaw Hellkite

The Mythic Dragon from Magic 2013 made a thunderous return to Standard in the last two weeks. Blue/White/Red decks have adopted the card as a racing tool that improves their gameplan against Lingering Souls and Planeswalkers. Thundermaw Hellkite has been not-so-quietly making a big comeback on Magic Online and it looks like it has crashed out of the computer screens everywhere to fly across tables and win games out of nowhere.

Pillar of Flame

2. Pillar of Flame

Pillar of Flame has become the staple removal spell of the format. The card efficiently deals with Strangleroot Geist, Voice of Resurgence, and lets players get a lot of value out of cards like Snapcaster Mage and Augur of Bolas.

Unflinching Courage

1. Unflinching Courage

Don't laugh, it works. Unflinching Courage was a staple in the Bant Aura decks that were the second most represented archetype in Day 2. Additionally, Naya players of all stripes have discovered that nothing wins a race like a healthy boost in power and toughness with some trample and lifelink.