Grand Prix Chicago 2012

Jacob Wilson is the champion of Grand Prix Chicago 2012! After three consecutive finishes just shy of Top 8, Wilson managed to pilot his updated Jund list to a breakthrough, making it through the Top 8 and into a 74-card mirror match against Josh Utter-Leyton. After a close, tense match, the top of Wilson's deck proved very merciful, providing exactly what he needed to tear the final game away from Utter-Leyton.

While it's hard to ignore the fact that two Jund decks made the finals, or that Jund won yet another Modern event, the fact remains that there were seven different decks in the Top 8 and eleven in the Top 16. Modern is a wide open format, where you can play anything. From innovations in existing archetypes to new players on the scene, Grand Prix Chicago was incredibly entertaining from start to finish, and a testament to deckbuilders everywhere.



(1) Shane McDermott

(8) Josh Utter-Leyton

(4) Ryan Hovis

(5) Alex Majlaton

(2) Jacob Wilson

(7) David Gleicher

(3) Edgar Flores

(6) Michael Simon


Josh Utter-Leyton, 2-1

Alex Majlaton, 2-0

Jacob Wilson, 2-0

Edgar Flores, 2-0


Josh Utter-Leyton, 2-0

Jacob Wilson, 2-0


Jacob Wilson, 2-1







1. Jacob Wilson $3,500
2. Josh Utter-Leyton $2,300
3. Edgar Flores $1,500
4. Alex Majlaton $1,500
5. Shane McDermott $1,000
6. Ryan Hovis $1,000
7. David Gleicher $1,000
8. Michael Simon $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 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Edgar Flores

Download Arena Decklist

Alex Majlaton

Download Arena Decklist

Shane McDermott

Download Arena Decklist

Josh Utter-Leyton

Download Arena Decklist

David Gleicher

Download Arena Decklist

Ryan Hovis

Download Arena Decklist

Michael Simon

Download Arena Decklist

Jacob Wilson

Download Arena Decklist

Top 8 Player profiles


David Gleicher

Age: 28
Hometown: Chicago
Occupation: Scrivner

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 25 Pro Tour Dark Ascension, Top 8 Grand Prix Salt Lake City What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Green Red Tron. I thought people would be more inclined to try and beat all the combo decks with midrange decks than to play combo… also, it’s fun What are your best and worst matchups?
Best - anything fairWorst - anything unfair How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
5 on a scale of 1 to 10 If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
The sideboard was very good, but I don’t know if the Thorns of Amethyst are actually good. Never brought them in.I would cut Spellskite and Explore from the maindeck for a 4th Sylvan Scrying and a 4th Oblivion Stone Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Yes, Grand Prix Indianapolis.

Jacob Wilson

Age: 17
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Occupation: Student, tennis coach

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 12/13 last 3 GPs (Columbus, Boston, San Jose). 2 Pro Tour appearances in 2012. MOCS Top 8 (Feefyfohfum) What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Jund with Lingering Souls. Josh Utter-Leyton said it was good. What are your best and worst matchups?
Best - Mirror, Birthing Pod, most creature decks.Worst - Tron. How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
Large factor If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
-1 Treetop Village+ any other land Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Any that I can.

Alex Majlaton

Age: 27
Hometown: Lanham, MD
Occupation: Statistician for hire

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 other Grand Prix Top 8s, Top 50 Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, and Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Affinity (PLEASE stop calling it “robots”) What are your best and worst matchups?
I’d rather not play against Kiki-Pod decks. How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
Learned the matchup from watching Cedric Phillips and the Stream Team for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, so I already felt comfortable with it. If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
Ethersworn Canonist was kind of chewy, so I’d cut it for some other goodie. Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Charleston next week, then MAYBE Toronto and Indy if I’m not exhausted yet.

Michael Simon

Age: 31
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Occupation: Contractor

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 64 GP Denver 2011, PTQ Top 8s. What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Splinter Twin. I was comfortable with the deck and it felt like it had good matchups if built right. Blood Moon does a lot of work. What are your best and worst matchups?
Best - Infect, AffinityWorst - Blue White Midrange How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
I played 2 Maindeck Mizzium Skin, 3 Spellskite to give outs to Abrupt Decay. Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Grand Prix Indianapolis.

Edgar Flores

Age: 23
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Robot

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Like 20 SCG Open Top 8s, 1st Grand Prix Top 8. What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Blue-White cause that’s all I play. I’ve never played Modern before, so I just chose to play this deck cause it Top 8ed the GP last week. I wanna thank Mark for lending me the deck! What are your best and worst matchups?
I really don’t know, there’s a lot of different decks in the format. If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
I would leave it the same. It’s pretty good. Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Yes. Going to Charleston next week.

Ryan Hovis

Age: 22
Hometown: St. Clair, MI
Occupation: Multiple retail jobs

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Championed Storry Teller, and a few Day 2s at events. What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
4 Color Pod. It has answers against the “unfair decks” via Chord, and a strong aggro game against the “fair decks.” What are your best and worst matchups?
Best - Black White TokensWorst - Splinter Twin How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
Just ignored it, it’s the best fair deck so you just have to hope they draw mediocre or you rip like a boss. If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
No Surgical Extractions or Sowing Salts (though I only played Tron and no Storm). Put some creature kill in the board like Oust, and then put in some Pithing Needles or Phyrexian Invokers . Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Toronto, and Indianapolis.

Josh Utter-Leyton

Age: 26
Occupation: Software Engineer

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 Pro Tour Top 8s, 5 Grand Prix Top 8s, US National Champion What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Jund with Lingering Souls. It’s playing the most individually efficient cards, and then all interaction to get to the point where it’s your last two or so cards versus their last two, that the individual card efficiency takes it. Lingering Souls is incredibly powerful against the most played decks in this tournament (Jund, Affinity, and Infect). What are your best and worst matchups?
Best - InfectWorst- Green Red Tron and Scapeshift How big of a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
It was the deck I wanted to beat the most. If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
I’ve been really happy with my sideboard this weekend, but for next weekend I would probably get the Fulminator Mages back in, and I would like to not be so vulnerable to Rest in Peace. Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Most likely all of the North American ones.

Shane McDermott

Age: 23
Hometown: Iowa City, IA
Occupation: Student

Previous Magic accomplishments:
3-1'd some Daily Events, Darth_Revan on MTGO. What deck are you playing, and why did you choose it?
Gifts Control. I've been playing it since Grand Prix Lincoln, and felt it was the deck I know how to play. Also, I like to Raven's Crime people. What are your best and worst matchups?
Infect and UW are both really good. Merfolk is bad, Jund is a coin toss. Tron can be pretty rough. How big a factor was Jund in your preparation for this tournament?
I was set on Gifts regardless, but hoped that UW would make a strong appearance to push out Jund. If you were to play this deck again next weekend, what changes would you make to your sideboard (if any)?
Cut Supreme Verdict, probably for a second Damnation. Are you planning to go to any more Grand Prix this year (2012)?
Which ones

Most likely not. I generally stick to Modern.

Quarterfinals - Jacob Wilson vs David Gleicher and Shane McDermott vs Josh Utter-Leyton


This couldn't have been how Jacob Wilson had envisioned his first Top 8 beginning. Playing Jund against David Gleicher's Tron deck, Wilson saw unkeepable hand after unkeepable hand, mulliganning all the way down to four cards. After a weekend of playing so well to reach this point, it had to feel like the steering wheel was being taken out of his hands.

He began the match with a first-turn Thoughtseize, revealing the following hand:

Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Sphere
Expedition Map
Expedition Map
Ancient Stirrings
Urza's Mine

He took the Ancient Stirrings, trying to lock Gleicher out of a second land for as long as he could. Gleicher played the Mine he had in his hand, using it to cast one of the Chromatic Spheres. He cracked it for green mana on the next turn, but didn't have either another land or an Ancient Stirrings. To make matters worse, Wilson had played a Tarmogoyf on his second turn, and adding the artifact to the graveyard made it a 3/4 creature. It got even larger when Wilson aimed a second Thoughtseize at Gleicher, revealing:

Chromatic Sphere
Wurmcoil Engine

He took the Wurmcoil Engine, making his Tarmogoyf a 4/5, and attacked.

Gleicher's life was falling away in chunks, but it had taken all of Wilson's cards to reach this point. Gleicher popped his Chromatic Sphere for green, using the mana to cast an Ancient Stirrings. He found himself a Grove of the Burnwillows, finally adding a second mana source. He used it to put a second Expedition Map into play, priming himself for the future.

An Inquisition of Kozilek came off the top for Wilson, revealing Gleicher's most recently-drawn card, a Sylvan Scrying. Wilson took the Spellskite, wanting to keep the path clear for his Tarmogoyf. Wilson's beast dropped Gleicher to a precarious eight life. Gleicher needed something fast. He used his Expedition Map to set himself up with an Urza's Power Plant. If things remained unchanged, he would have one more turn to get things under control. In that one turn, he could potentially find an Urza's Tower and complete the Tron, but he was also going to need to find something to do with that mana. Wilson had been stripping his hand every turn and knew incredibly well what length Gleicher was going to have to go to in order to take this game.

He kept attacking. He was one attack away from winning his first game of the quarterfinals after muliganning to four cards on the play. Gleicher drew his card, looked for a moment, and conceded, giving Wilson an improbable first-game victory!

Jacob Wilson 1 - David Gleicher 0

Meanwhile, on the video coverage, Josh Utter-Leyton appeared to be in quite a problematic spot. Shane McDermott had just resolved a Gifts Ungiven, stocking his graveyard with a Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and an Unburial Rites. Casting the Unburial Rites to put the praetor into play, McDermott looked in an unbeatable position. Utter-Leyton had a Liliana of the Veil in play, but McDermott had protection in the form of two Spirits from Lingering Souls. In addition to running interference to keep Elesh Norn safe, the Spirits turned into 3/3 attackers, quickly cutting Utter-Leyton down. He tried desperately to stay alive as long as he could, using a Raging Ravine to buy himself one more turn, but his deck afforded him no help as he fell to McDermott in the first game of his quarterfinals.

Shane McDermott 1 - Josh Utter-Leyton 0

Back to the other match, where both players had just agreed to keep their opening hands. Gleicher started with an Urza's Power Plant and a Chromatic Star. Wilson checked in on what Gleicher had in store with an Inquisition of Kozilek, revealing the following hand:

Karn Liberated
Grove of the Burnwillows
Chromatic Star
Wurmcoil Engine
Oblivion Stone

He took the Star, and Gleicher took his turn. Gleicher sacrificed the Star for a green, drawing into an Urza's Tower, which he promptly put into play. Wilson, meanwhile, began to build his army. He made a Dark Confidant, revealing a Tarmogoyf on his first upkeep. The Tarmogoyf immediately hit play, and the duo began to attack. Gleicher had an Oblivion Stone to try and clear the board, but it was hit by an Ancient Grudge before he got the chance.

Gleicher was in a tight spot. He had two-thirds of Tron, including two Towers, but he didn't have enough mana to cast the cards he needed to get back into the game. When Wilson stripped him of his Wurmcoil Engine with a Thoughtseize, things looked even more grim. He was going to need the lifelink to regain a foothold in the match. Wilson followed that up with a second Tarmogoyf and looked to close things out. Gleicher yet again failed to complete Tron, and Wilson didn't give him any more chances. Wilson attacked with his pair of Goyfs and finished things off with a Lightning Bolt to the face.

After staring his quarterfinals effort with a mulligan to four, Jacob Wilson had secured himself a spot in the semifinals and a place at Pro Tour Gatecrash!

Jacob Wilson 2 - David Gleicher 0

On the other side of the table, Josh Utter-Leyton found himself on the favorable side of a Lingering Souls army, unlike his last game.

Thoughtseize hit McDermott, revealing a hand of:

Snapcaster Mage
Lingering Souls
Misty Rainforest

Utter-Leyton chose to take Damnation, looking to keep his air force alive as long as possible. McDermott still had Snapcaster, but he only had three mana and a Deathrite Shaman with no lands in play. Not to mention that Utter-Leyton had a Deathrite Shaman of his own in play to keep McDermott's graveyard on lockdown. Utter-Leyton attacked him down to 13 and passed the turn.

On his turn, McDermott sacrificed a Misty Rainforest to get the mana needed to cast Abrupt Decay on Utter-Leyton's Shaman. In response, Utter-Leyton took no chances, trying to use his Shaman to remove the Damnation. In response to that, McDermott used his own Shaman to remove it, dropping Utter-Leyton to 11. Afterwards, he made himself a small set of blockers with a single cast of Lingering Souls.

Utter-Leyton went into full-on aggro mode. He activated his Raging Ravine and attacked into McDermott's team. The Iowan lined up his two Spirits in front of the Ravine and one of the tokens, dropping to 7. On his turn, McDermott simply flashed the Lingering Souls back. Utter-Leyton once again activated and attacked with his team. Once again, two Spirits blocked a Spirit and the Ravine, dropping McDermott to 5. Utter-Leyton made a Deathrite Shaman of his own and passed the turn. McDermot used Utter-Leyton's end step to gain life up to 7.

McDermott was slowly gaining control. He used his Snapcaster Mage to flash back Abrupt Decay, keeping his Shaman as the only one on the board. When Utter-Leyton attacked in with his team, the Snapcaster took one for the team, blocking the very Raging Ravine. After combat, Utter-Leyton added a Tarmogoyf to his team, keeping him ahead of McDermott.

On his turn, McDermott landed a potential haymaker: Wurmcoil Engine. The massive lifelinker was exactly what McDermott needed to fight off Utter-Leyton's monsters and get him enough life to truly be safe. He knew something was up when Utter-Leyton drew, however, and he began to ask him about what he drew.

"Iiiis it Lightning Bolt? No? Hmm... can it be Lightning Bolt," he asked comically as Utter-Leyton began to tap four mana.

"Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it," Utter-Leyton responded with a smile.

When Utter-Leyton moved his Raging Ravine up next to his Tarmogoyf, it became clear that it wasn't the Bloodbraid Elf that McDermott had thought it was. The attack was enough damage that McDermott would be dead if not for his Wurmcoil's lifelink. Utter-Leyton had a way to deal with that, though, aiming a Rakdos Charm at the Wurmcoil to prevent McDermott from gaining enough life to survive the attack.

This match was going to Game 3.

Shane McDermott 1 - Josh Utter-Leyton 1

McDermott started the final game off with the powerful Deathrite Shaman. Respecting the power of the Shaman, Utter-Leyton immediately fried it with a Lightning Bolt before replacing it with one of his own. Not one to allow a Deathrite Shaman to remain in play if he can't have one, McDermott used Path to Exile to remove Utter-Leyton's as soon as he untapped. Wrapter searched his deck for a Forest and put it into play.

Utter-Leyton began to try and build his board while McDermott appeared to be light on land. With McDermott failing to draw a third land, Utter-Leyton cast Dark Confidant and Batterskull off a group of lands including Treetop Village and Raging Ravine. McDermott had a Mana Leak for the Dark Confidant, but he couldn't stop the other threats. Still with only two lands on the table, McDermott smiled as he put his hands on the table.

"This is where I ask you to concede so I can go to the Pro Tour," McDermott said with a grin.

Utter-Leyton smiled and politely declined. McDermott reached his hand across the table and shook Utter-Leyton's hand, wishing him luck in the rest of the Top 8.

"I don't know if I want to see Jund win again, but I would like to see you win. Good luck," he offered.

"Thanks. I really like your deck, by the way. The first two games were really good. Sorry that the last one had to happen." Utter-Leyton admitted to McDermott. McDermott thanked him and walked away from the table with a smile on his face.

Shane McDermott 1 - Josh Utter-Leyton 2

Quarterfinals – Alex Majlaton (Affinity) vs Ryan Hovis (Kiki-Jiki Pod) Edgar Flores (Blue White) vs Michael Simon (Twin)

by Steve Sadin

Alex Majlaton vs. Ryan Hovis

Game One

Springleaf Drum, Arcbound Ravager, Steel OverseerGlimmervoid, and a pair of Inkmoth Nexuses allowed Majlaton to get off to a dominating early lead against Ryan Hovis.

When a pair of Galvanic Blasts allowed Majlaton to take out a Spellskite, and a Restoration Angel - Hovis found himself in a spot where he had just a Glen Elendra Archmage, and a Wall of Roots against Majlaton's board full of artifacts.

Turns out, that wasn't a particularly effective defense.

Alex Majlaton

Majlaton untapped, and attacked with two of his Inkmoth Nexuses, and his 3/3 Arcbound Ravager. Hovis blocked one of the infectious lands with his Glen Elendra Archma --but that wasn't enough to stave off death, as Majlaton had enough artifacts to make his Arcbound Ravager into a 9/9, that he then sacrificed to make his unblocked Inkmoth Nexus deal lethal poison damage.

Alex Majlaton 1 – Ryan Hovis 0

Michael Simon vs. Edgar Flores

Game One

Michael Simon

While Majlaton was busy winning his first game against Hovis, Michael Simon was able to resolve an early Pestermite against Edgar Flores's Blue White deck. However, a Geist of Saint Traft, and a Vendilion Clique backed by a Dismember were all that Flores needed to get off to a quick one game lead.

Edgar Flores 1 – Michael Simon 0

Alex Majlaton vs. Ryan Hovis

Game Two

Both players mulliganed down to 5 before deciding to keep hands that looked like they were causing them physical pain. Hovis's hand had only a single land in it, while Majlaton's hand had 2 Mox Opals and no other mana sources.

Fortunately for Majlaton, his first draw step yielded an Inkmoth Nexus which allowed him to cast a Vault Skirge. On the other side of the table, Hovis drew a Birds of Paradise that he hoped would allow him to cast the Kataki War's Wage in his hand a turn later.

Ryan Hovis

However, that was not to be – as Majlaton had a Thoughtseize to take out the Kataki, War's Wage, and a Galvanic Blast that left Hovis with just a single Temple Garden for mana.

Hovis drew a Noble Heirarch which he immediately cast – but another Thoughtseize stripped a Kitchen Finks, and a Dismember once again left Hovis with just a Temple Garden.

From that point, a Cranial Plating was all that Majlaton needed to dispatch the mana starved Hovis – allowing him to advance to the Semifinals, securing himself an invitation to Pro Tour Gatecrash in the process.

Alex Majlaton 2 – Ryan Hovis 0

Michael Simon vs. Edgar Flores

Game Two

Michael Simon mulliganed down to 5 in the second game, and hoped that his opponent had "stone nothing."

Simon was able to resolve an early Pestermite that tapped Flores' only blue source – but with no fourth land, Simon was unable to cast the Splinter Twin in his hand that would have allowed him to combo off against his (then helpless) opponent.

Edgar Flores

But once that window of opportunity closed for Simon, he would never get another one.

Simon stuck around for a while after that, but with no way to break past Flores's hand full of counterspells, and removal, it was only a matter of time before Flores found a Restoration Angel that he rode to the Semifinals.

Edgar Flores 2 – Michael Simon 0

Semifinals - Jacob Wilson (Jund) vs Edgar Flores (UW Angels)

by Nate Price

This had already been an exciting Top 8 for Jacob Wilson, having bounced back from a mulligan to four to take his quarterfinal match against David Gleicher's Tron deck. In the semifinals, he found no such problems. Edgar Flores, however, was forced to go down to six cards on the draw to begin the semifinals. Flores was packing the aggro-control UW Angels deck that had been ripping things up the Modern scene in recent weeks. Supposedly, UW has a great matchup against Jund, so perhaps the mulligan wouldn't matter much. But then again, Jund did manage to beat Angels to take down the title in Lyon. Both Jund decks had advanced to the Semifinals, but would they make it any further?

Wilson was the first on the board, playing a Liliana of the Veil and immediately going to work on their hands. Both players discarded a card, and Wilson passed the turn. Flores followed Liliana with a fairly resilient threat in the face of the mighty planeswalker: Blade Splicer. The Splicer came down with a 3/3 Golem token that it was able to shield from Liliana's sacrifice ability. Wilson added a monster of his own, a 2/3 Tarmogoyf that began to attack on the next turn. During Wilson's draw step, Flores flashed in a Vendilion Clique, revealing

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Abrupt Decay

Flores thought for a minute before choosing to let Wilson's hand stay untouched. Wilson activated his Liliana, discarding a Lightning Bolt to Flores's Restoration Angel. When Tarmogoyf attacked, Flores blocked with his Vendilion Clique before choosing to kill the Tarmogoyf with Dismember at the end of the turn. With one card in hand, Flores had no choice but to drop it into the graveyard as Wilson ticked up his Liliana one more time. Wilson discarded a Lingering Souls himself, prompting a sigh of awe from Flores. Wilson flashed the Lingering Souls back and began his assault.

Over the next few turns, the Lingering Souls tokens were able to get Flores down to 7 before he finally hit enough mana to activate his Celestial Colonnade. In the process of wiping out Flores's hand, Wilson had left himself with nothing else himself. With Liliana so close to going ultimate, Wilson had to switch to the defensive for a turn, using his Spirit to chump block the Colonnade headed for her.

With one Spirit left in play and Flores sitting on seven lands, Liliana went ultimate, splitting Flores's lands into the three man-lands and the other four. Flores chose to keep four lands, intending to try and claw back into things. He wasn't at a particularly safe life total, but Wilson didn't have any pressure other than a 1/1 Spirit. He managed to get a Wall of Omens into play and then flicker it with a Restoration Angel, drawing himself another card and stopping Wilson cold. A second Wall of Omens gave him a second line of defense and a Geist of Saint Traft gave him some offense. It looked like Flores might be able to pull it off, but things were really close.

Edgar Flores

Wilson finally drew something to do potentially finish things off: Bloodbraid Elf. The one card that Bloodbraid Elf doesn't usually want to see, Deathrite Shaman, obviously sprang forth from Wilson's deck. With Flores at 4 life, however, it turned out to be an ideal card. Wilson attacked with his one flier, dropping Flores to 4. Flores cracked back with his Angel and Geist of Saint Traft, trading the Geist with the Elf and knocking Wilson to four. Unfortunately, the Deathrite Shaman was able to seal things up for Wilson on the following turn, prompting Flores to concede a near-comeback.

"I kept six lands. I wasn't going to mulligan to five. The first spell I drew was that Vendilion Clique," Flores admitted.

Jacob Wilson 1 - Edgar Flores 0

Both players kept their opening hands, and Flores started off with a Hallowed Fountain. Wilson hit him with Thoughtseize, revealing

Path to Exile
Snapcaster Mage
Spell Snare
Wall of Omens
Eiganjo Castle

He took time to write them all down before deciding on the Wall of Omens. Flores drew for his turn, but, denied his two-drop, simply passed the turn. Turn three passed in a similar fashion. The first contribution to the board came in the form of the devastating Liliana of the Veil. Lilly hit each player for a card, knocking a Spell Snare from Flores's hand and a land from Wilson's. Unwilling to let things go as they had in the last game, where Liliana was always one turn ahead of Flores's hand, Flores flashed in a Snapcaster Mage at the end of Wilson's turn. He then untapped and attacked her down to two.

Wilson once again made use of the synergy between Liliana and Lingering Souls to discard it to Liliana before making blockers to defend her. Flores was forced to stop attacking her, allowing Wilson to begin ticking her back up. When he hit five mana, Flores slammed a Baneslayer Angel into play from a nearly empty hand. The Snapcaster Mage was still around to protect the Angel from Liliana, but not for long. Wilson used a Lightning Bolt to kill the Mage, clearing the way for Liliana to finish off Flores's team.

Jacob Wilson

At this point, the game was fairly elementary for Wilson. He played another Lingering Souls and began to attack. Flores was drawing off the top of his deck, and the cards he was drawing didn't help much. He had a Mana Leak for a Bloodbraid Elf, but the Lightning Bolt Wilson cascaded into took one more turn off of the clock. Flores's deck once again provided nothing, and he conceded, wishing Wilson luck in the finals.

Jacob Wilson 2 - Edgar Flores 0

Semifinals - Alex Majlaton (Affinity) vs Josh Utter-Leyton (Jund)

by Steve Sadin

While he might not be a household name yet, Alex Majlaton has been quietly racking up results for the better part of the last decade. After chewing his way through the competition on Day One, Majlaton was able to continue winning long enough today to secure the fourth Grand Prix Top 8 of his career.

Once he was in the Top 8, he still needed to defeat Ryan Hovis, and his Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Pod deck, to qualify for Pro Tour Gatecrash. Majlaton did this handily, and now he finds himself within two matches of becoming a Grand Prix Champion.

Majlaton's opponent in the Semifinals – Josh Utter-Leyton, is also in the hunt for his first Grand Prix title. Despite the fact that this is his 6th Grand Prix Top 8, up until this point he's always fallen just a little bit short of taking the trophy.

Will this be the weekend where that all changes?

Game One

Majlaton had a Vault Skirge, a Memnite, and a Steel Overseer to kick things off – but a Lightning Bolt from Utter-Leyton made short work of Majlaton's Overseer.

Despite the fact that he had just lost his best creature, a pair of Signal Pests, and a pair of Vault Skirges allowed Majlaton to again threaten a very quick kill... at least until Utter-Leyton played a Lingering Souls that allowed him to completely chew through Majlaton's plans.

Alex Majlaton

A couple of bloody attack steps later, and Utter-Leyton was on 12 with 3 poison counters, but Majlaton had only a Vault Skirge, a Signal Pest, and an Inkmoth Nexus as potential threats.

Another Lingering Souls made attacking a nightmarish proposition for Majlaton, and a Tarmogoyf gave Utter-Leyton exactly the damage source that he needed to finish off the game before Majlaton could rebuild.

Josh Utter-Leyton 1 – Alex Majlaton 0

Game Two

Both players mulliganed, but Majlaton kept a hand that allowed him to play five cards on turn one. However, they weren't exactly the five cards that he might have hoped. A Glimmervoid, a Welding Jar, a Mox Opal, and a Springleaf Drum, all came down in rapid succession before Majlaton ended his turn with a Thoughtseize.

The Thoughtseize took a Rakdos Charm, and left Utter-Leyton with Lingering Souls, Phyrexian Metamorph, and lands. Utter-Leyton then topdecked a Thoughtseize that took out the last card in Majlaton's hand, a Thoughtcast.

An Etched Champion gave Majlaton an evasive damage source for a moment, but a Lingering Souls, followed by a Shatterstorm left him with just a Darksteel Citadel, and a Glimmervoid.

A Vault Skirge didn't seem like much against 4 Spirit tokens, but a Master of Etherium (which died to a Maelstrom Pulse) followed by an Arcbound Ravager gave Majlaton a glimmer of hope. However, Majlaton would need to act fast in order to keep himself alive in the face of Utter-Leyton's steadily growing Raging Ravine.

Josh Utter-Leyton

Realizing that he couldn't sit around and wait, Majlaton sacrificed all of his non-Vault Skirge artifacts to his Arcbound Ravager, to offer up a trade with Utter-Leyton's attacking Raging Ravine.

The trade went through as planned, and Majlaton was allowed to move 5 +1/+1 counters onto his Vault Skirge...

...but Utter-Leyton was ready with a Terminate that allowed him to take out the 6/6 Vault Skirge, and leave Majlaton without a single permanent or card in hand.

Knowing that he was beat, Majlaton conceded and wished his opponent good luck in the finals.

Josh Utter-Leyton 2 – Alex Majlaton 0

Finals: Jacob Wilson vs. Josh Utter-Leyton

by Nate Price

Ladies and gentlemen, we heard your requests and we have delivered: the Jund Mirror Match Finals! After proving its versatility at Grand Prix Lyon, Jund metamorphosed yet again for its appearance here in Chicago, dipping into white for Lingering Souls. Thanks to its consistency and adaptability, Jund players concentrated near the top tables as the tournament progressed, eventually putting two decks into the Top 8, the only repeated deck archetype. Getting seeded into different sides of the bracket, they methodically dismantled their opponents until there was only this. The pinnacle of Modern Magic.

The Jund mirror.

Wilson was first on the board, playing a Deathrite Shaman that was immediately Lightning Bolted. His follow up Dark Confidant was hit with Abrupt Decay. In an attempt to draw out every single removal spell in Utter-Leyton's deck, he followed that with a Liliana of the Veil, interestingly choosing not to force a discard. Utter-Leyton had a Liliana of his own, reseting the board to mere lands.

Evenly matched in cards after the series of 1-for-1s, Wilson pulled ahead with a Bloodbraid Elf, getting himself a free Liliana of the Veil. He once again chose not to activate her, simply attacking and passing the turn. Utter-Leyton had a Bloodbraid of his own, cascading into a Lingering Souls. The Bloodbraid Elf sent at Liliana, and Wilson put her in the graveyard.

Since it wouldn't be a true mirror match if there weren't a hilarious number of the same cards being played, Wilson made a second Bloodbraid Elf, cascading into a Terminate to kill Utter-Leyton's copy. The Elves attacked into Utter-Leyton's Spirit tokens. Both Spirits jumped in front of one of the Bloodbraid Elves, trading with it. On his turn, Utter-Leyton simply made some more tokens by flashing back his Lingering Souls and made a Tarmogoyf, taking the advantage back from Wilson.

Wilson protected himself slightly with an Inquisition of Kozilek, stealing a second copy of Tarmogoyf from Utter-Leyton's hand. He added a Deathrite Shaman to his board and passed the turn. If he survived long enough for it to matter, the Deathrite Shaman would be able to do work on the graveyards, trimming Tarmogoyf's power.

Josh Utter-Leyton

Even denied his second Tarmogoyf, Utter-Leyton was on the offensive. He animated his Treetop Village and attacked with it and the Tarmogoyf. Wilson blocked the Village with his Bloodbraid, dropping to 10. After combat, Utter-Leyton played Liliana of the Veil and used it to get rid of the Deathrite Shaman. Wilson gained two life and put it into the graveyard.

Wilson managed to peel his way into a Terminate to kill the Tarmogoyf, leaving Utter-Leyton with two Spirits and Liliana in play. Left with only those two 2/2s, Utter-Leyton began the arduous task of ending the game. Wilson drew and played another great card off the top of his deck, a Dark Confidant, but depending on what he hit, it could cause more harm than good. Rather than risk anything, Utter-Leyton simply used the last loyalty of his Liliana to kill the Confidant.

Wilson was running out of time. He was down to 6 and didn't have anything in play or in hand. He drew and played a Raging Ravine, but that didn't really help him out at the moment. Utter-Leyton attacked him down to 4. After a one-turn hiatus, Wilson's deck came went back to drawing like a champion. Lingering Souls gave him four fliers for five mana, overmatching what Utter-Leyton currently had on the board, and securing his own life for the time being. Utter-Leyton simply drew his card and passed the turn. When Wilson animated his Raging Ravine and attacked with it and two Spirits, Utter-Leyton used a Terminate to kill the land and traded Spirits.

Just like that, Wilson who had the upper hand. He began to attack Utter-Leyton with one of his remaining fliers, taking care to avoid dying to a Bloodbraid Elf. With Utter-Leyton at 6, Wilson used a Lightning Bolt to halve Utter-Leyton's life total. After attacking for one more point of damage, Wilson went ahead and aimed the second Lightning Bolt at Utter-Leyton, taking the first game of the finals.

Jacob Wilson 1 - Josh Utter-Leyton 0

Wilson began with a Thoughtseize, revealing

Dark Confidant
Ancient Grudge
Olivia Voldaren
Dark Confidant

Utter-Leyton had two powerful anti-Jund sideboard cards in his hand, but Wilson chose to slow him down by taking his Dark Confidant. Utter-Leyton's next draws were obvious, as he played a Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf in succession, both cards that weren't in his hand for the Thoughtseize. Wilson dealt with the second Confidant with an Abrupt Decay, but the Tarmogoyf was let roam free.

Utter-Leyton began attacking. His clock was helped some by a Dark Confidant hitting Wilson's side, and he was quickly able to get Wilson down to 9. A second Tarmogoyf was matched by Wilson, and Utter-Leyton found himself thinking about an attack. After deliberating, Utter-Leyton went ahead and sent both of his Tarmogoyfs into attack. Without a second thought, Wilson lined both of his creatures up in front of one Tarmogoyf, looking to make a trade. Utter-Leyton nodded as he knocked Wilson down to 5.

Jacob Wilson

After combat, the first of Utter-Leyton's sideboard cards hit the table. Wilson was at 5, so Olivia didn't even need to grow her more than twice to be lethal, and he had two red sources in play. Wilson took no chances, using a Marsh Flats to fetch a Swamp so he could cast a Phyrexian Metamorph. It had cost him all but his last life point, but Wilson had dealt with Olivia. Into her void, Utter-Leyton simply played his second sideboard bomb: Batterskull. With Wilson so low, Batterskull's main function was as another large creature. Wilson was almost finished.

With the game on the line, Wilson looked to the top of his deck to save him. He cast a Bloodbraid Elf, started to cascade, and crossed his fingers. Springing forth from the depths of his 74-card mirror, his lone Maelstrom Pulse arose, swiftly dealing with the Batterskull. At one life, but with a creature advantage, Wilson had to press it fast. He was dead to a large number of cards in Utter-Leyton's deck, so things had to end before he drew them. Taking advantage of his superior numbers, Wilson attacked Utter-Leyton with everything, including a Raging Ravine. Utter-Leyton could only block one creature, which let a large chunk of damage through. Combined with the damage that his own lands had dealt to him, Utter-Leyton was suddenly in dire straits. That one cascade had completely changed the game around. He had one more chance to draw an out or he was dead. His deck failed to appease him, and a final all-in attack from Wilson stole the game and the match, giving him a win in his first Grand Prix Top 8!

Jacob Wilson 2 - Josh Utter-Leyton 1

Saturday, 9:43 a.m. – Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Chicago

by Steve Sadin and Nate Price
Mizzium Skin

5. Mizzium Skin

In the days leading up to this tournament a lot of players complained about the fact that their Splinter Twin decks couldn't beat Abrupt Decay. Michael Simon was not one of those people.

Not content to rely exclusively on the fragile Spellskite to protect himself from Abrupt Decay, and other removal spells -- Michael Simon decided to put two copies of Mizzium Skin (a card that doesn't always get played in Return to Ravnica limited) in his maindeck, and another one in his sideboard.

Turns out that the seemingly innocuous, but contextually crucial, Mizzium Skin was exactly the answer that Michael needed to propel himself into the Top 8.

So the next time you think that your Modern deck can't beat something, that probably just means that you aren't looking hard enough.


4. Ornithopter

Alex Majlaton chewed through the Swiss rounds of Grand Prix Chicago with an Affinity deck that's fast enough to keep up with even the most degenerate combo decks in the format, and resilient enough to slog its way past any foe that isn't packing (too much) hate.

While there are certainly a lot of cards that players can play in Modern that punish Affinity players -- this weekend anti-artifact cards like Ancient Grudge were few and far between, allowing Alex to advance all the way to the Semifinals (where he ultimately fell to a Shatterstorm).

So if you ever think that players aren't giving Affinity enough respect, it might be time for you to dust off your Ornithopters and get to work.

Restoration Angel

3. Restoration Angel

While it's unlikely that Restoration Angel will ever be as dominant of a card in Modern as it has been in Standard, it's still a crucial component for a number of decks.

Ryan Hovis made his way to the Top 8 with a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Pod deck that used Restoration Angel as both a key combo piece AND as a way to negate opposing removal spells. And on the other end of the spectrum, Edgar Flores was able to use his 4 Restoration Angels as the primary victory conditions in the Blue-White deck that took him all the way to the Top 4.

Lingering Souls

2. Lingering Souls

Let's be honest now, this isn't the first time Lingering Souls has seen this list. The card is just absurdly good at what it does, which is everything. Jund, already the most versatile deck in the format, added a new wrinkle this week as it added white for the powerful token-generating sorcery. It combines well with Liliana of the Veil, adds a quick shot of offense or an oppressively long-lasting defense, and is one of the few cards in Jund that isn't a straight 2-for-1.

Without rehashing too much of what has already been written, the sheer number of threats generated for a single card and five mana is absurd. The ability to either make a ton of attackers or blockers depending on what the situation calls for is unparalleled. Its power level made it one of the most reviled cards in Magic for a while, and now its found its way into one of the most maligned decks in Modern. Jund and Lingering Souls is a match made in heaven.

Deathrite Shaman

1. Deathrite Shaman

While Deathrite Shaman doesn't do any one thing better than another card in Modern could do, it's become a format staple in everything from Jund to Gifts Rock because of the fact that it's always going to do something good for you. It acts as a mana source, and then a victory condition. It allows you to gain some much needed life against aggressive decks, and it even allows you to combat graveyard based cards like Snapcaster Mage, Kitchen Finks, and Pyromancer Ascension.

So if you're playing a (non-combo) deck in Modern that has access to green and/or black mana, and you're not playing 4 Deathrite Shamans -- then there's a very good chance that you're just making a mistake.


Decklists of the 9-16 Place Finishers

by Event Coverage Staff

Michael Kwon - 9th Place

Download Arena Decklist

Luis Scott-Vargas (SpiritJund) - 10th Place

Download Arena Decklist