GP Amsterdam 2017 Day 1 Highlights

Posted in Event Coverage on June 3, 2017

By Frank Karsten

1,170 players started things off for the Grand Prix Amsterdam main event, and after nine rounds of Standard action, only 376 players remain. Let's dive into Day One in a nutshell.

Some 3-bye players ran Marvel; others tried to beat it

Of the 1,170 players in attendance here in sunny Amsterdam, 22 were Gold or Platinum members of the Pro Players Club. Among others, the world's current No. 1 Márcio Carvalho was looking to shore up his lead, (13) Martin Jůza was looking to secure a World Championship qualification, and (14) Martin Müller was hoping to score more points to remain Platinum. Besides the various Gold and Platinum pros, Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Guillaume Wafo-Tapa also had three byes.

So what was the metagame among these 23?

As expected, Temur Aetherworks Marvel was the most popular choice. But still, the majority of 3-bye players chose another deck, trying to beat Marvel rather than to join’em. And at the end of the day, there were no Marvel decks among the five 9-0 undefeated players. None whatsoever!

One of the most popular approaches to attack Marvel decks was to combine a quick clock (with creatures that are not easily stopped by Rogue Refiner or Whirler Virtuoso) with ways to prevent Aetherworks Marvel from resolving (Spell Queller, Metallic Rebuke, Ceremonious Rejection, Negate, Transgress the Mind, etcetera). Examples of this approach include Black-Green Delirium, Jeskai or Four-Color Vehicles, Temur or Red-Green Energy, and various other aggro decks.

Beyond that, plenty of sweet brews showed up as well. Every round, I attempted to fill the feature match area with interesting decks, and a lot of awesome games were shown on stream. Your commentators Matej Zatlkaj, Marijn Lybaert, and Riley Knight brought you all the action!

Past broadcasts can be found here. To give you a quick indication, I selected one deck, typically one from the main video feature match, as a highlight for every round.

Round 1 Deck Spotlight: New Perspectives combo with Cedric Kool

Cedric Kool's New Perspectives – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Cedric Kool who enjoys homebrew decks, and he showed up to the Grand Prix with New Perspectives combo. The game plan is resolve the enchantment, then cycle Shefet Monitor and Vizier of Tumbling Sands to generate mana, do it all again with Shadow of the Grave, and eventually win with Approach of the Second Sun. "Before the Amonkhet prerelease, I had already made a cycling deck, and then I saw other builds online. It's so much fun to play—I really enjoy it. And I wanted to see how far I could come with my own ideas."

According to him, his matchup against Temur Aetherworks Marvel decks is reasonable. In Game 1, he is essentially playing a deck that can kill on turn 5, and 3/2s for three mana are not racing him. Even if they have an early Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, he can answer it with Cast Out. After sideboard, he gains Gideon's Intervention. By naming the 10/10, he can stop the most powerful angle of attack from the Marvel deck.

Unfortunately for Kool, he was paired against one of his worst matchups (Blue-Red Control) and lost his Round 1 feature match.

Afterwards at another table, we saw how Philip Gillard only needed one attack (with a 20/20 Electrostatic Pummeler) to win. It was a great way for him to start the tournament, and a victory for exponential growth.

Round 2 Deck Spotlight: Paradox Engine combo with Tom Theijssen

Tom Theijssen's Paradox Engine Combo– Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Although Tom Theijssen lost his Round 2 feature match to Mardu Vehicles, he came prepared with a sweet deck...and proper brick counters.

His game plan revolves around 12 mana rocks: Pyramid of the Pantheon, Corrupted Grafstone, and Hedron Archive. Once he adds Paradox Engine to the board, he can then turn his cheap spells into extra mana. "Eventually, I can start chaining Pull from Eternity. It must have looked weird on camera when I went off because I needed so many dice, but I managed to cast a Pull from Eternity for 25!"

Theijssen felt that he stood a chance against Temur Aetherworks Marvel because he had Negate and Commit // Memory as disruption. "You can use these card to go for a control route, and their clock is too slow. I can typically combo them on turn 5, 6, or 7. But I have almost no removal spells in the main deck, so I'm weak to fast aggro decks."

Round 3 Deck Spotlight: Red-Green Indomitable Creativity with Mark Knobbe

Mark Knobbe's Green-Red Creativity – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Mark Knobbe had been playing Magic since 1994, but this weekend marked his first entry into a Grand Prix. As he explained, he was mostly a Commander player, but he started playing FNMs in the last two years. He found a Standard deck he liked, didn't want to pass up a local Grand Prix, and so far things were going well for him. "It's going way better than expected! Opponents often board incorrectly because they have no idea what I'm playing."

The key card in his deck is Indomitable Creativity. "The idea is to make tokens with Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, From Beyond, and Chandra, Flamecaller and to turn them into hasty beaters with Indomitable Creativity. The only creatures or artifacts in my main deck are Glorybringer and Reality Smasher."

"The original idea came from Conley Woods. I started playing and tuning the deck myself a month ago, and when I saw an updated build in his stream last week, I saw a lot of similarities. I changed my last two cards to match his build."

So far, he had beaten Marvel decks multiple times, mostly thanks to the Eldrazi in his sideboard. "I can cast Thought-Knot Seer before they can play Marvel by ramping with Ruin in Their Wake. I also have Void Winnower, which I can hit with Indomitable Creativity or fetch with From Beyond. Once it hits the table, they have no outs. And finally, I haven't done this yet, but I could target their Marvel with Indomitable Creativity—most of the cards they could hit are irrelevant."

Round 4 Deck Spotlight: Blue-Red Control with Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

Hall of Famer Guillaume Wafo-Tapa is renowned as a control master, but we didn't see him at many events in recent years, largely because he was studying to be a teacher. But he started playing Standard again one month ago. "I started teaching this year, and now I have some more free time and holidays. I wanted to do a Grand Prix since it's been a long time, and I hope to play the next Pro Tour."

No one was surprised that he took a control deck, but why exactly blue-red? "There was only one control deck in the format so I didn't have much choice," he laughed. "I tried variations, like white-blue, but the removal was so bad. I also tried three-color combinations, but it wasn't worth it. So here I am—playing blue-red." His list, apart from one Kefnet the Mindful in the main deck and another in the sideboard, looked fairly standard overall.

"I think I'm slightly favored against Marvel because I have made the choice of not playing Magma Spray maindeck. The matchup is really close, so I wanted to have the best matchup possible." Despite his attempts, Wafo-Tapa finished the day at 5-4, indicating that control decks may not be the way to go nowadays.

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa's Blue-Red Control – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Round 5 Deck Spotlight: Simon Nielsen with Jeskai Vehicles

Simon Nielsen's Jeskai Vehicles – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Simon Nielsen, currently at 27 pro points on the year, was hoping to score a few additional points at this Grand Prix to clinch the 35 he needs at the end of the season to stay Gold. His deck of choice? Jeskai Vehicles. "I accidently messed up the clan-colors, and now I'm playing Jeskai," he said. When prompted for a more serious answer, he explained that blue was simply better than black in the current metagame. Chats with Donald Smith and Kelvin Chew confirmed his beliefs.

"Fatal Push is not very good anymore because against Marvel, they might not even play Servant of the Conduit. Unlicensed Disintegration is also placed awkwardly in the format—there are not many Archangel Avacyn or Glorybringer that you want to kill. But Spell Queller is really good against Marvel. I figured that if I would put blue countermagic in the sideboard anyway, then I might as well cut the black to improve my mana base, rely on Harnessed Lightning for removal, and become Jeskai Vehicles."

Another important inclusion was Inventor's Apprentice. "You're not trying to out-midrange anyone—you're an aggro deck. Metallic Rebuke loses value as the game goes long, so you need pressure." Nielsen finished the day at 7-2, alive for Day 2.

As a brief interlude that really has nothing to do with Nielsen at all, we bring you a group of happy children who sat down in front of the feature match area at this point in the day. They had a great visit, showing that Magic can be enjoyed by players of all ages. They were even learning some new English words from the cards.

Round 6 Deck Spotlight: Lars Rosengren with Anointed Procession

Lars Rosengren's Abzan Stockpile – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Several months ago, we featured Lars Rosengren when he found success with a Hidden Stockpile deck at Grand Prix Utrecht. At Pro Tour Amonkhet, Sam Black made waves with a similar-looking Anointed Procession deck. This weekend, Rosengren ran his deck back again.

"I started with my list from Utrecht and then made some changes. I cut some removal because it's not necessary anymore: Anointer Priest and Anointed Procession give a lot more late game power and life gain, which means that you don’t have to kill stuff. I also figured out that I had to play more cheap cards, and Transgress the Mind seemed the best against Marvel." For that matchup, he also had Lost Legacy, Dispossess, and Manglehorn in his sideboard.

"I love this deck. That's the reason I play it. But I don’t think it's a very good call for the metagame, as Marvel is a bad matchup. I'm 1-1 vs Marvel so far, and I'm happy with that. The attack trigger from Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger that exiles 20 cards is hard to beat; I cannot chump it. But Marvel is the only bad matchup—I like to play against everything else!"

His deck surely was a blast to play and an easy crowd favorite. Rosengren, for instance, had a good time with 3 Hidden Stockpile and 3 Anointer Priest during his feature match, on his way to a 7-2 finish on the day.

Round 7 Deck Spotlight: Thomas Hendriks with Black-Green Delirium

Thomas Hendriks' Black-Green Delirium – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Last week, Dutch pro point leader Thomas Hendriks got the final point he needed renew his Gold level status in the Pro Player Club for the next season. This weekend, he did not want to play Marvel. "I tried various decks, but I liked black-green the best. I like to cast Tireless Tracker, and this deck can play four of them in addition to four Traverse the Ulvenwald. Tireless Tracker is the backbone of the deck, and it's fun with Winding Constrictor—double counter on the Tracker."

"The Marvel matchup is better than it might seem. In Game 1, you have a fast clock, so they have to hit Ulamog quickly or they lose. You win the fair game because your creatures go much bigger. You also have 4 Dissenter's Deliverance, so if they miss, then you can destroy Marvel before they get another activation. After sideboard, you get Dispossess to exile Aetherworks Marvel and Transgress the Mind to take cards like Confiscation Coup."

In his second game in the feature match area, he showed what his deck was capable of: he used two Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and two Winding Constrictor to give each of his creatures +6/+6. He then attacked for 51.

Hendriks finished the day at 9-0!

Round 8 Deck Spotlight: Jesper Box with Temur Energy

Jesper Box's Temur Energy – Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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Jesper Box, a solid, experienced player from the Netherlands, started 7-0 before losing to Samuel Vuillot. His deck of choice was Temur Energy—a midrange deck that (besides the typical energy package) can use Channeler Initiate to ramp into big threats like Bristling Hydra, Glorybringer, and Elder Deep-Fiend. It did well at Pro Tour Amonkhet, and it also had a good performance at this Grand Prix.

"I beat Marvel four times today. I'm not sure the deck is actually good in the matchup, but I'm happy I added 2 Negates to his deck, and my Marvel opponents have been unlucky."


Day One’s 9-0 Players

Five players reached the end of Day One with undefeated, pristine 9-0 records.

They would have a head start going into tomorrow, but hot on their heels were a group of veterans including Shahar Shenhar, Lukas Blohon, and Oliver Tiu at 8-1. To learn a bit more about the five 9-0 players and their decks, check out their profiles below!

PETR SOCHUREK

Age: 23

Hometown: Prague, Czech Republic

Occupation: Pro player

Number of byes: 3

Previous Magic accomplishments: 5 GP Top 8s with 2 GP wins, PT Top 16, Platinum pro

What Standard deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? 4-color Mardu – it's great

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Not really sure. Hope they don’t hit Ulamog?

Petr Sochůrek's Four-Color Vehicles – 9-0 at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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ALLARD STELLINGWERF

Age: 29

Hometown: Wageningen, Netherlands

Occupation: Traveling

Number of byes: 0

Previous Magic accomplishments: Day 2 at GP Utrecht

What Standard deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Gruul Energy Gods. It evolved out of Jund Energy Aggro. This has an easier mana base.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Against Black-Green Constrictor, when we were both at 3 life, I played Kari Zev's Expertise to steal a guy and win.

Allard Stellingwerf's Red-Green Energy Gods – 9-0 at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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MICHAEL MAURICI

Age: 28

Hometown: Australia

Occupation: Grinder

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: 9th at Nationals. Plenty of GP Top 16s.

What Standard deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Esper Aggro. It has a great Marvel and U/R matchup, and I thought it was well positioned in the metagame.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? I beat Ulamog and Chandra, Flamecaller with their Marvel in play and only Scrapheap Scroungers for me.

So you're from Australia! How did you end up in Amsterdam? At the release of Kaladesh, I decided to get back into the game to get back on to the Pro Tour. I've spent the past few months traveling and playing GPs. Without success...yet!

Micheal Maurici's Esper Vehicles – 9-0 at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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SAMUEL VUILLOT

Age: 27

Hometown: Paris, France

Occupation: Head of technical support

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Utrecht 2017 Champion, and Pro Tour Aether Revolt Top 48.

What Standard deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Jeskai Vehicles, or how I like to call it: Jeskdu! I went 5-0 against Marvel today (beating Shahar Shenhar and Oliver Tiu!) I think that speaks for itself.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? The Marvel matchup is really close and really interesting. Overall I feel ahead after sideboard, and games are enjoyable.

Samuel Vuillot's Four-Color Vehicles – 9-0 at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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THOMAS HENDRIKS

Age: 24

Hometown: Leiden, Netherlands

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 3

Previous Magic accomplishments: Pro Tour Top 8, 2 GP Top 8, Dutch WMC team resident.

What Standard deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Green-Black, because Tracker!

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? I once had 3 Tireless Trackers in play at the same time. Nothing feels better.

Thomas Hendriks' Black-Green Delirium – 9-0 at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2017

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