Top Moments of Grand Prix Melbourne, Bologna, and Detroit 2016

Posted in Event Coverage on March 7, 2016

By Ray Walkinshaw, Tobi Henke, Frank Karsten, Corbin Hosler and Marc Calderaro

Special thanks to Ray Walkinshaw, Tobi Henke, Frank Karsten, Corbin Hosler, and Marc Calderaro for their contributions to this article.

Grand Prix Melbourne: Thought-Knot Seer Does Not See ‘Er

I would love for the Top Moment from Grand Prix Melbourne to have involved Jason Chung’s wonderful Jund Dredge deck, a deck routinely seen with a graveyard stretching across his play area and back, and featured no less than 4 Squee, Goblin Nabobs. But I would be lying to myself if the Top Moment wasn’t the final match between Maitland Cameron and eventual winner David Mines.

It was a White-Blue Eldrazi mirror match, a particular build of the Eldrazi menace designed to beat other Eldrazi decks on the back of Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope. I’m sure as you view those two cards together, you can see what the finalists referred to as the “soft lock” Cameron assembled to win Game 2 after Mines’s blistering start in Game 1.

But the Top Moment in Melbourne came in Game 3 not once, but twice. Cameron reached into Mines’s hand with a Thought-Knot Seer and saw a trio of removal spells, only to watch Mines to draw a Reality Smasher off the top and send it alongside an Eldrazi Mimic to knock Cameron down to 10 life.

Cameron struggled back with some removal spells of his own, and looked like he could stabilize when a second Thought-Knot Seer revealed a solitary land in Mines’s hand. But Mines pulled the same stunt again. This time he drew the aptly named Drowner of Hope to push Cameron under and earn the title of Grand Prix Champion.

Grand Prix Bologna: That Uh-Oh Moment

More a series of events than one singular occurrence, the whole of Grand Prix Bologna's semifinal round was punctuated by moments of that sinking feeling you get when you realize things have taken an unfortunate turn.

First, Ruben Perez miscounted and sacrificed almost all of his permanents to his own Arcbound Ravager when he really shouldn't have done that.

Then, in the next game, his opponent, Alberto Mattioli, panicked in a moment of confusion and cast Hurkyl's Recall at a time when he really shouldn't have done that either.

Meanwhile, in the other semifinal match, Giuseppe Reale picked up and consulted a piece of paper that he really, really should have left face down.

Finally, I told my colleague Frank Karsten about the semifinals results and waited while he deduced the matchup for the finals, which he would be reporting next. I admittedly watched with a bit of glee as it dawned on him that this would be another White-Blue Eldrazi on White-Blue Eldrazi finals, the same as in Melbourne.

Subsequently, Frank Karsten confirmed the dominance of the Eldrazi. For all Eldrazi decks that were in the Top 100 of the standings at the end of Day 1 at Melbourne, Bologna, and Detroit, he determined their overall match win percentage during the Sunday Swiss rounds (excluding known mirror matches and draws, making for an overall sample size of over 340 matches). It was 54.1%! That’s rather high, and when applied over many rounds, it’s no surprise that the Eldrazi decks dominated. Uh-oh.

Grand Prix Detroit: Everyone but White-Blue Eldrazi Are Good Guys

Coming into this weekend, Eldrazi had a target on its head. But just like when we took jets into the sky to fight the mothership in Independence Day, all the blasts were deflected.

One by one, each tournament updated results and watched Eldrazi decks win and win and win. Across all three Grand Prix the archetype was 43% of the Top 100 finishing archetypes after Day 1. And it wasn’t just the general Eldrazi that was the problem, it was this White-Blue Eldrazi.

As the weekend wore on, the rest of the world coalesced and rallied around “Everyone but Eldrazi.” When White-Blue Eldrazi was winning Melbourne, Dredge—a deck that terrorized formats over the erasbecame something to root for. After White-Blue Eldrazi won Grand Prix Bologna with another mirror-match final, we rallied behind Abzan Collected Company—a deck that was basically acknowledged as the best deck in Modern not too long ago.

Then, during the final Top 8 in Detroit—a Top 8 with four White-Blue Eldrazi—an absurd moment happened. All of a sudden, we found ourselves rooting for Red-Green Eldrazi. Red-Green, the new Eldrazi on the block, became the “Good Cop” in a “Good Cop/Bad Cop” routine. Another Eldrazi deck was the good guy. We were really rallying deep.

But all that rallying paid off. Philadelphian Ralph Betesh broke the streak in the final match of the entire weekend. When his Abzan Collected Company defeated White-Blue Eldrazi in the finals, it was Will Smith punching that alien in the face while declaring, “Welcome to Earth.” It felt pretty good.

We wanted anyone but White-Blue Eldrazi, and Betesh gave it to us at the very, very end.

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