5. Phil Napoli & His Bestie Osyp Re-Qualify for the Tour in Back-to-Back Events
We've been seeing both old-school East-Coasters Phil Napoli and Osyp Lebedowicz more and more frequently at Grand Prix lately. It's been a concerted effort by the two to "give it one last real go."
Two weeks ago at Grand Prix Providence, while the two played the same 75 cards, Osyp Lebedowicz earned a Top 8 and re-qualified for the Pro Tour. But that left Napoli in a bit of a lurch.
That was, until this weekend, where Phil Napoli eked out a tough win-and-in against former Player of the Year, ninth-ranked Mike Sigrist, in a match-up that Napoli didn't expect to win in the first place. We talked a bit about his history and his Infect deck not 45 minutes earlier.
Not only did he earned the last slot in the Top 8, but now he's re-qualified for the same Pro Tour as Osyp. They'll return to the tour together.
4. Eight Cryptic Commands Make the Semifinals
Modern is a format that many see as dominated by aggressive decks. Between Death's Shadow Aggro, Infect, Dredge and Burn, there are lot of ways to die by the fourth turn in Modern.
Turns out the reports of the death of control have been greatly exaggerated.
Three pure control decks advanced to the semifinals of the Grand Prix, with Corey Burkhart's Grixis, Alex Mitas' Jeskai and Kevin Mackie's Skred Red making it there. A full eight Cryptic Command were the last four decks in the tournament, and the finals was an all-control affair between Skred Red and Grixis Control.
Modern may still be a format that leans aggressive, but after Dallas there's no doubt that control has its place.
3. Braun-Duin's Practice Pays Off
One of the perceived "boogeymen" of the format entering Grand Prix Dallas, Dredge was a blast from the past. Previous incarnations of the Golgari Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp and Life from the Loam shell have terrorized formats past, and with the recent additions of Prized Amalgam, Insolent Neonate and Cathartic Reunion many feared the non-interactive deck would be back in all its glory.
As powerful as Dredge might be, unbeatable it is not. Player after player fell by the wayside as they struggled to fight through a field of Rest in Peace, Grafdigger's Cage and Surgical Extraction, but one person made it all the way to the Top 8.
That would be World Champion Brian Braun-Duin, who put in countless hours of practice with Dredge over the past few weeks. It's not easy to navigate through a field with some extremely dedicated hate cards, but Braun-Duin proved that with practice, it's possible.
2. Burkhart Cruises to the Finals
There were so many storylines in Dallas, but one of the most fun was following Corey Burkhart. The three-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor made a return to his roots and sleeved up Grixis Control for this tournament—after a disappointing run with a more standard archetype. What followed was one of the most impressive runs in Grand Prix history.
Playing an archetype and deck that few considered viable, let alone well-positioned, Burkhart won early. And kept winning. He won his first 14 matches of the tournament before drawing with Brian Braun-Duin in Round 15 to secure his preferred spot in the bracket heading into the Top 8.
He defeated Phil Napoli's Infect deck in the quarterfinals, then repeated the feat in the semis against Michael Mei piloting the same deck. In the end he finally fell to Kevin Mackie in the finals, but Burkhart won 16 of the 17 matches he played this weekend, marking one of the best Grand Prix weekends in recent memory.
1.Kevin Mackie Drops the Hammer in the Finals
Koth of the Hammer, to be exact. After an incredible cinderella run through the tournament with a rogue contender in Skred Red, winner Kevin Mackie showed the power of his chosen deck.
A deck many considered a relic of another era, or of no era ever, Mackie tweaked his build for a few weeks, had it pay off in spades.
Its mix of strong removal and hard-to-answer threats paid off in an exciting finals against Corey Burkhart's Grixis Control. After trading resources in the early game, Mackie set up a board state where he was able to resolve the powerful planeswalker.
Protecting it from Burkhart's Tasigur, the Golden Fang with a well-timed Skred, Mackie made Koth go ultimate in Texas, sealing the game, the match and the title for Austin native Kevin Mackie, your Grand Prix Dallas champion!