5. Scottsdale Foundation’s Meteoric Crash to Earth
Things were all but sewn up for one of the best Teams in the game—Scottsdale Foundation. After ten rounds, Matt Sperling, Dave Williams and Paul Rietzl were on top of the world. The only undefeated team. 10-0.
Then the hull dropped out of the party barge.
Down the stretch, there are always so many good teams fighting for the Top 4 spots, there’s no room for error. And sometimes, something’s gotta give. This time, it was the Scottsdale Foundation’s turn.
Every pro recognizes how tight the competition becomes in those last few rounds, as fourth-ranked Paul Rietzl said in this post-game tweet giving props to Top 4 finishers, Peach Garden Oath:
Pains me to say it: huey Owen Reid are the best. Real recognize real.— Paul Rietzl (@paulrietzl) March 13, 2016
Don’t worry—the boys will be back. And they’ll be bringing their A game too.
4. The Brothers Kiefer Sorting Their Affairs
Team Grand Prix are often about more than the Magic. Nothing shows that better than the spirit of the multiple teams of parents and children or brothers and sisters competing. And nobody exemplifies that spirit better than the Kiefer brothers Quinn, Jack and Lucas, ages 10, 13 and 15. The trio has taken the regional tournament circuit by storm but curiously didn’t play together this weekend.
The reason? Mom Jennifer — who travels with them to every tournament — made an executive decision that they fought too much while playing.
While they made not have all played together, the Kiefers did celebrate together. All three secured a spot in Day 2 — a first for Quinn and Lucas — and 10-year-old Quinn’s team finished the tournament 11-3, an incredibly impressive feat.
Not to mention bragging rights with his brothers.
3. Four Win-and-In Matches in Round 14
There’s often a scramble to figure out feature matches in the final round before the Top 8. Doing the math of who is locked or who might think they are locked can get hairy. But there was no such scramble this weekend.
As all the teams competing for the final spots in the Top 4 had to play a Win-and-In to get there.
There’s not much greater drama than a final round Win-and-In, and it’s incredibly rare that every spot in the Top 4 or Top 8 is decided in such a manner. But that’s exactly what happened in D.C., and it’s hard to top these four matches.
-Owen Turtenwald/William Jensen/Reid Duke vs. Andreas Ganz/Marc Tobiasch/Florian Koch
-Mike Hron/Matt Severa/Justin Cohen vs. Paul Rietzl/David Williams/Matt Sperling
-Matt Nass/Jacob Wilson/Sam Pardee vs. Joel Larsson/Martin Muller/Martin Dang
-Andrew Tenjum/Ben Rasmussen/Daniel Cecchetti vs. Tom Martell/Ian Spaulding/Richard Hoaen
Eight players ranked in the Top 25 and the reigning Rookie of the Year, all competing for a final shot at the title. Doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
2. First Grand Prix Top 16 for Pro Tour Finalist Justin Cohen
Justin Cohen may have been under the Pro Tour Sunday lights—when he showed the world what Amulet Bloom could do at Pro Tour Fate Reforged—but the Grand Prix elimination rounds have eluded him. Until now!
With his Grand Prix Washington, D.C. win, Cohen has not only clinched his first Grand Prix win, but his first Top 4, his first Top 8, and even his first Top 16. It might seem illogical that the 2015 Rookie of the Year could have zero Grand Prix Top 8s. But we don’t have to worry about that anymore, because it isn’t true.
1. Mike Hron and Rich Hoaen Facing Off in the Finals
Before this weekend, Beijing in 2015 and Kyoto in 2013 were the last two Team Grands Prix both Rich Hoaen and Mike Hron had attended. They were on teams together at each. And as many old-school Magic tournament followers could guess, they won both of them.
Both Hron and Hoaen are names familiar to any fan of tournament Magic for over a decade, but recently they’ve made new names for themselves and Team Grand Prix ringers.
This time, however, they chose to play on different teams. So what was the Top Moment of the weekend? When these two met in the finals to see which one of them would three-peat and win the third consecutive attended Team Grand Prix.
Mike Hron got the trophy, but both of them now have the story.