Top Stories of Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on June 10, 2018

By Frank Karsten

Earlier on Saturday morning, 753 players arrived in Copenhagen to play in the main event. In the end, in a finals reminiscent of last weekend's Pro Tour, Tobias Maurer emerged triumphant with Mono-Red Aggro, defeating Francisco Sanchez's R/B Chainwhirler deck in the finals. The following are my picks for things to remember from this Grand Prix.

20 GOBLIN CHAINWHIRLERS IN THE TOP 8

Last weekend, Pro Tour Dominaria showcased the power of Goblin Chainwhirler, as red-heavy decks dominated the Top 8.

This weekend, the dominance continued: 42.6% (69/162) of the players in Day 2 ran 4 Goblin Chainwhirler, and this percentage increased to 62.5% (5/8) in the Top 8. Versions with a black splash were the most common, both in the Top 8 and in the full Day 2 metagame breakdown.

Archetype # Players in Day 2 % Field
RB Chainwhirler 56 34.6%
Esper Control 19 11.7%
WU Control 13 8.0%
Steel Leaf Stompy 12 7.4%
Mono-Red Aggro 12 7.4%
BG Constrictor 9 5.6%
WB Benalia 6 3.7%
UB Control 5 3.1%
UB Midrange 5 3.1%
GW Midrange 3 1.9%
UW God-Pharaoh's Gift 3 1.9%
Esper Benalia 2 1.2%
Mono Black Midrange 2 1.2%
Mono-Red Flame 2 1.2%
UB God-Pharaoh's Gift 2 1.2%
BG Midrange 1 0.6%
BG Ramp 1 0.6%
BR Control 1 0.6%
Grixis Control 1 0.6%
Haphazard Temur 1 0.6%
Jeskai Control 1 0.6%
Mono Blue Tempo 1 0.6%
New Perspectives 1 0.6%
Paradoxical Storm 1 0.6%
RW Chainwhirler 1 0.6%
Sultai Midrange 1 0.6%
Total 162 100.0%

TWO WAYS TO BEAT THE GOBLIN CHAINWHIRLER DECKS

If you weren't taking a Goblin Chainwhirler deck to Grand Prix Copenhagen, then you needed a clear plan to beat them. Yesterday we got various answers to the question of how to go about this, but the final standings made one thing clear: there is no one deck that truly squashes the Goblin Chainwhirler decks, and other midrange decks are surely not the answer. Based on the Top 8, there were only two strategies that could have a realistic shot against the Goblin Chainwhirler decks: going over, or going under.

Joakim Stahle-Nilsson's Mono-Red Flame – Top 8 of Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

Joakim Stahle-Nilsson made the Top 8 by going under. The mana curve of his Mono-Red Flame deck was extremely low—he didn't even include Hazoret the Fervent or Goblin Chainwhirler.

Instead, he played as many as 16 one-drop creatures in an attempt to maximize his chances of blazingly fast starts. Stahle-Nilsson's game plan was to overwhelm opponents before they could get their defenses up, and he could follow up with 12 cheap burn spells to close out the game. His low curve also made it more likely to cast The Flame of Keld with an empty hand for maximum value, and he would surely smile if his opponent would play Scrapheap Scrounger or another creature that couldn't block on turn two.

Javier Dominguez's White-Blue Control – Top 8 of Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

No. 10 Javier Dominguez and Pro Tour champion Martin Dang made the Top 8 by going over the top. Both of them played a W/U Control deck that could effectively blank any Abrades and Unlicensed Disintegrations from the red players.

Dominguez felt that he had a good matchup against the Goblin Chainwhirler decks: "The most important cards in the matchup are the removal spells and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. It gets much worse after board, but Game 1 is so good for me that overall it's still a good matchup."

He may be on to something (even if Hall of Famer and control master Guillaume Wafo-Tapa supported his belief that Esper Control was superior with a Top 16 finish) but in the end, the finals was still a Goblin Chainwhirler mirror.

SEVERAL SPICY BREWS FINDING SUCCESS

Several players brought spicy brews to Copenhagen this weekend, which is always nice to see. In the Day 1 Highlights, we already showcased Thoralf Severin's R/B Control list featuring four copies of The Eldest Reborn, and it worked out for him with an 11-4 finish. "I think it's just an insane card. It removes, it kills, it's a win condition. And nothing feels better than getting their Hazoret the Ferventor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria."

Thoralf Severin's B/R Control – 27th (11-4) at Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

Sideboard (15)
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury 1 Doomfall 2 Arguel's Blood Fast // Temple of Aclazotz 3 Chandra's Defeat 3 Duress 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner 1 Sorcerous Spyglass

But from our video coverage of the Day 2 video competition, two other brews stood out.

Sune Hvidt's Haphazard Temur – 91st (10-5) at Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

"Haphazard Bombardment is the core of the deck," Sune Hvidt told me after winning yet another round. "When Dominaria came out, we talked about how Haphazard Bombardment was really good when you got two of them in play. And then I started thinking about the lock with Ramunap Excavator and Memorial to War to keep destroying lands. That was how I got to play a land destruction deck."

As it turns out, when you resolve Haphazard Bombardment and put the counters on four opposing lands, it feels great. The second Bombardment is even better, as the aim counter left behind by the first one means you get to destroy four permanents the second time around.

The next discovery in Hvidt's deck construction process was Star of Extinction. It complemented the land destruction theme, and "it's really powerful when all of your mass removal spells also hit planeswalkers." His global sweepers restricted his options for win conditions, but Hour of Promise turned out to be perfect as a late-game win condition that could ramp into Memorial to War and/or Arch of Orazca early on.

Although he liked his matchup against control decks, he was not as positive about his matchup against the Goblin Chainwhirler decks. One of the biggest problem cards is Rekindling Phoenix. "It's is really, really difficult. The only out is to get to seven mana with Struggle // Survive in the graveyard and Hour of Devastation in hand. Or a transformed Thaumatic Compass." But Hvidt had no reason to regret his deck choice—he dodged Rekindling Phoenix for most of the tournament, and he finished with a respectable 10-5 record.

Max Pritsch's New Perspectives – 19th (11-3-1) at Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018

Max Pritsch's combo deck is all about New Perspectives. When the enchantment is on the battlefield, cycling Shefet Monitor or Vizier of Tumbling Sands generates extra mana. "Usually, generating two mana and getting the first Shadow of the Grave is enough to draw your entire deck because it exponentially grows," Max Pritsch explained. Faith of the Devoted is the win condition.

Pritsch had been playing the deck for almost a year now. He played it at last year's Nationals, at Grand Prix, and a lot on Magic Online. "I think I played 400 matches with the deck on Magic Online. I like to just play solitaire on my computer sometimes; it's fun."

The deck did lose Weirding Wood in the 2017 fall Standard rotation, but Pritsch found New Horizons as a replacement. With 6 enchant lands, 4 New Perspectives, and 2 Razaketh's Rite, his experience was that he could threaten a turn-5 combo about half of the time. And when Goblin Chainwhirler decreases the overall speed of the format by pushing out cards like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Toolcraft Exemplar, and Llanowar Elves, that is usually fast enough. What's more, Pritsch felt that the R/B Chainwhirler decks are pretty easy Game 1 because they're too slow.

Things get more difficult after sideboard, but Pritsch had a transformational plan at the ready. Against decks with Duress or Negate, Pritsch was generally planning to board out his entire combo and to bring in Drake Havens and creatures. "Post board it plays a lot of the time like a Limited match; you often hardcast Shefet Monitor," he laughed.

His deck choice worked out well for him with a 19th place finish. And apart from the Scarab God in the sideboard (which he mentioned should turn into Nimble Obstructionist) he was happy with his list.

SIMON NIELSEN CLINCHES GOLD

As the 2017-2018 premier play season was nearing its end, several pros travelled to Copenhagen in an attempt to earn extra Pro Points. All players with 30 or more match points received at least one Pro Point, and among them was Grand Prix Birmingham 2018 champion Simon Nielsen.

The extra Pro Points he picked up would secure Gold level in the Pro Players Club for him, and they also gave him a huge boost in the race for the Danish Captaincy at the World Magic Cup. Given that he was locked in an extremely close race with Christoffer Larsen and Michael Bonde—now just one point apart—every point mattered, and Nielsen was happy with his 17th place finish this weekend.

TIM KERNKE HAS ONE OF THE BEST GRAND PRIX DEBUTS EVER

Tim Kernke didn't expect much from the event. It was his very first Grand Prix ever, and he didn't get his hopes up after starting 3-2. But then he just kept winning.

After winning 10 straight matches in a row, he advanced to the Top 8, earning himself an invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica in Atlanta in November. Although he eventually fell in the semifinals, his weekend stands out as one one of the best and most impressive Grand Prix debuts imaginable.

TOBIAS MAURER TAKES THE TROPHY WITH MONO-RED AGGRO

Tobias Maurer, a 31-year-old project coordinator from Mannheim, Germany, took the trophy with Mono-Red Aggro. The overall strategy of the deck is well-known by now, and Maurer praised two cards in particular: “Goblin Chainwhirler is insane, and Glorybringer won me a lot of games."

Tobias Maurer's Mono-Red Aggro – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018 champion

His finals against Francisco Sanchez's R/B Chainwhirler deck once again showed that having untapped and reliable lands is key in the red mirror. In Game 1, Francisco Sanchez was in a spot where he could have turned the game around if he had drawn an untapped land for Goblin Chainwhirler, but instead he found Canyon Slough on top of his deck. And in Game 2, Sanchez was unable to cast the Goblin Chainwhirler he had in hand with his land configuration of 2 Mountain, a naked Aether Hub, and a lone Spire of Industry.

Indeed, the black splash does come at a cost, and Maurer's decision to stick with 24 basic Mountains paid off for him with the trophy, the eternal glory, and $10,000.

Congratulations to Tobias Maurer, your Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018 champion!

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