Corey Burkhart has made his name in Modern piloting Grixis Control. Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth marked his third Top 8 appearance with the archetype in the last 12 months. More than that, he entered the finals undefeated, running off a perfect 14-0 start before drawing the final round of the swiss. He followed that up with a decisive quarterfinals win before taking down a three-game nailbiter over Michael Mei's Infect deck in the semifinals. One more win and he would play every match possible without losing on the weekend.
Standing in his way was Kevin Mackie, who set the Modern world on fire this weekend with his red deck. Skred Red, to be exact. A self-described "FNM and Game Day grinder," from Austin, Mackie made his run to the finals with the most surprising deck of the Top 8. In a format full of aggressive, powerhouse decks like Infect and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, it was Skred Red that had seen Mackie through. Eternal Scourge won the informal poll of "least likely card to Top 8 a Modern Grand Prix," but that description may as well have applied to Mackie's entire deck.
Combined with Burkhart's improbable undefeated run with Grixis Control, Mackie's Cinderella story with a rogue deck was a sign of how exploitable Modern's metagame entering Grand Prix Dallas was to the right deck with the right pilot.
When two control decks square off, it's often a slow game of land drops and counterspells. But with these two control decks interacting on such different axes, this matchup proved to be very different.
Things started on the fourth turn with a Pia and Kiran Nalaar from Mackie, which Burkhart allowed to resolve before taking down Chandra's parents with Kolaghan's Command. A second copy of the card on the next turn fell to a Lightning Bolt, but that left behind four thopters to begin taking chunks out of Burkhart's life total.
Burkhart fought back to catch up. Snapcaster and Bolt took down one thopter, and Kolaghan's Command took down two more. That still left a solitary thopter, and Burkhart at a precariously low four life. Seeing the need to get aggressive, he animated Creeping Tar Pit and begin sending it in alongside Snapcaster. Holding Lightning Bolt in hand, he put Mackie at 9 life, threatening lethal with the Bolt on the next turn.
Skred ended that plan, taking down the Tar Pit before attacking with his thopter to put Burkhart in Lightning Bolt range. Tanking on the play, Burkhart opted to play around the possible burn by burning his Bolt on the token. It fell, and Anger of the Gods took out the Snapcasters following combat.
That left the game teetering on the edge, and it was Mackie that had the gamebreaker, resolving Chandra, Torch of Defiance on his next turn. That revealed Eternal Scourge, which he cast. When Stormbreath Dragon followed on the next, Burkhart scooped up his cards.
As the second game developed, Burkhart suspended Ancestral Vision on turn one, but found himself stalled on lands after. A pair of Thought Scours had some of their work undone by Relic of Progenitus, and Burkhart was unable to rebuild fast enough to cast the Tasigur, the Golden Fang he had residing in his hand. More importantly, he didn't have a counterspell for Koth of the Hammer on the fourth turn.
Facing down the planeswalker, Burkhart needed an answer, and he looked to the Ancestral Vision to find it. Unfortunately, all it turned up was three lands to go along with the one he drew for his turn. The best he could manage was Tasigur, which at least served as a threat to Koth.
That is, until Skred took it down. Blood Moon followed, and as Burkhart failed to find an answer Koth went ultimate. As the players and judges around the feature table looked for something to represent a Koth emblem, Burkhart took matters into his own hands.
"Here's a representation of it," he said with a smile as he handed Mackie the trophy. "Congratulations!"
With that, Mackie is your Grand Prix Dallas champion!