Day 1 Highlights of Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on May 6, 2018

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the Good Luck High Five podcast and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

Over 1000 players have gathered in the Fort Worth Convention Center to take an early trip through Dominaria. With just a pair of Team Limited GPs and the Prerelease behind us, the format is still ripe for discovery and innovation. Powerful legendary creatures and synergy-focused uncommons can help players shape their Sealed pool. Capitalizing on removal and powerful creatures is the classic Sealed deck course of action, but that still looks different for every player and every pool.

Today, players battled through nine rounds of Sealed. After the eighth round, only those with a 6-2 record or better continued through the ninth. Tomorrow, they'll return for a pair of drafts. The goal, as always, is to be one of the eight players that top the standings and move on to the Top 8 draft.

With new players, pros, and everyone in between making up the field here in Forth Worth, it's sure to be a tense and exciting weekend of Magic. Join us tomorrow at to catch the end of the action!

After Day 1 and nine rounds with their Sealed decks, five players led the pack with perfect records.

Aaron Tobey, from Dallas, has been playing for fifteen years. In his green-white deck (splashing red), Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar, was an all-star. Though, putting On Serra's Wings on a Traxos, Scourge of Kroog was also pretty great.

For Vikram Kudva, from Seattle, the colorless Karn was an all-star in his all-but-red deck (and he could even board into red if he needed to). In Round 8, Kudva and his opponent had a stalled board flooded with creatures. Using Karn, Kudva was able to dig to the Pierce the Sky he needed to kill his opponent's only flyer and then finish them off.

Matt Stankey, from Madison, has been playing since Revised, which was so long ago that neither of us could remember exactly how many years that is. Stankey had both a best card and a favorite card in his white-blue deck, the best being In Bolas's Clutches, and his favorite being D'Avenant Trapper.

Jack Dobbin, from Chicago, spent his day destroying other players' copies of In Bolas's Clutches with Invoke the Divine, his pick for best card in his white-black deck. Dobbin, who's been playing since 2002, spent the day evading Bolas, winning even through an opponent with two copies of the legendary enchantment.

For Aaron Rubin, from Austin, Demonlord Belzenlok was far and away the best card in his white-black deck. Rubin's been playing for eleven years, but only starting getting competitive at GPs in the last year and a half. Today, in a single game, Belzenlok drew him a Lyra Dawnbringer, a Shalai, Voice of Plenty, and a Caligo Skin Witch.

The Best Way to Play

For some players, there's the thrill of competition and the drive to get on the Pro Tour. For others, learning Magic, staying in the game, or even returning to it after time away is about the people they can share the game with.

That's the case for the Harp family, who traveled to GP Dallas-Fort Worth from their home in Arkansas. Jeremy Harp played a little Magic in college, and then two years ago saw a Deck Builder's Toolkit at the store and got a pair for his kids for Christmas.

While he didn't realize it at the time, it was a fateful decision, because they've been playing non-stop since. While their interests otherwise diverge (Harrison, 12, is a book enthusiast, while Winston, 10, prefers sports), Magic is something that they can share and that brings them together.

These days, the Harp family drives forty minutes every week to their closest local game store in Fayetteville, travels to the same events, and listens to the same Magic podcasts together.

But just because they're enjoying the game together doesn't mean Harrison and Winston don't have competitive ambitions. Harrison made Day 2 of his first GP a few months ago, and Winston had a decisive victory in the feature match area at GP DFW. We're excited to see where Magic will take the Harps next!

Mapping Dominaria with the #1 Ranked Player

Dominaria is only three weeks old, and that includes the Prerelease, but the players in the Forth Worth Convention Center have already sunk a lot of time and energy into understanding the format. To better understand the scope of Dominaria Sealed, we asked current #1 ranked player Seth Manfield both his general impression of the format, and about his build today.

A lot of the Sealed basics still apply in Dominaria. Sealed decks very often aren't as focused as draft decks, and there are fewer synergistic decks because they often rely on specific combinations of cards to make them work. Removal is of utmost importance, and, in this format, cards with kicker are also at a premium.

“I'm a two-color deck, but I still have 18 lands because there's a lot of mana sinks, there's kicker cards, so games aren't being decided early on," Manfield said. “That's part of what I really like about this Sealed format. I've had some really cool games."

According to Manfield, artifact and enchantment removal earns a spot in the main deck in Dominaria, and that seems to be the consensus among players in the hall.

As for his Sealed pool today, Manfield had what he felt was a fairly straightforward path.

“I happened to have a lot of good stuff in white and black, and not really much in the other three colors," he said. “Sometimes you just get pools where you're able to eliminate three colors. Obviously that doesn't always happen. I've seen a decent amount of three-color, even four-color decks. If you get Skittering Surveyors or maybe a dual land for some fixing, you can splash to get that extra power level."

“I have a multicolor card, Arvad the Cursed, the white-black legend. So if you have a special multicolor card, it gives you that incentive to play a very specific two-color pair to get to play one of those cards, because those cards are all very impressive."

“I'm looking at mana curve considerations, but the thing with this format is that the curves just tend to be a little bit higher. So even though I have I think three two-drops and three three-drop creatures, there's a glut at five mana and at six mana, but I think that's kind of what you get yourself into playing this format."

For any creatures that do come in lower on the curve, Manfield looks for ways to keep them relevant later in the game.

“You don't want to have too many Grizzly Bear-type creatures, they get picked off relatively easily. I'm looking for combat tricks, depending on what my deck is doing, because if I'm playing Grizzly Bear-style creatures, then I need ways to push through combat or Relic Runner-type creatures that can get unblockable from time to time, so some way to push through damage if I'm trying to be aggressive."

Seth Manfield's White-Black – GP DFW

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Top Twitch Moments

If you missed Saturday's live stream, it's an action-packed trip through Dominaria Limited that's worth catching up on. If you need the highlights version (or just a little convincing), here are a few of our favorite moments from Saturday play.

Minnesota's Sam Ihlenfeldt, member of team Tower Games, made three . . . wait, four . . . no, that's five . . . let's just say his opponent made the mistake of letting Ihlenfeldt's Mishra's Self-Replicator get out of hand.

Round 5 saw an early battle of the pros as (16)Brian Braun-Duin and (23)Ben Stark faced off. Braun-Duin took Game 1 thanks to a vicious curve-out that started with casting back-to-back rares and ended with giving a legendary boat a legendary sword to carry.

In Round 6, we got what commentator Marshall Sutcliffe called the “long documentary of Benalia” when Roman Ewing cast two of the mythic enchantment on consecutive turns. While the first wave of knights wasn't enough to finish off his opponent, the second more than got the job done.

Round 7 brought a battle between copies of Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar. But then, in game three, Zizhuang Yang used In Bolas's Clutches to steal Sam Pardee's copy of Blackblade Reforged and attach it to his Multani, swinging for eighteen points of damage with a single creature (with trample!).

But What About Standard?

While the last few weekends of Grand Prix play have focused on Dominaria Limited in all its forms, there's still information about Standard players can glean from the goings-on here in Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • Steel Leaf Champion
  • Ghalta, Primal Hunger
  • The Scarab God
  • Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
  • Combat Celebrant

The three Standard Last Chance Trial Winners include Black-Green Ghalta, a take on new deck that's on the rise, Blue-Black Midrange, a familiar face, and Blue-Red God-Pharaoh's Gift, the breakout Standard deck of GP Seattle.

Scott Davidson's Black-Green Ghalta – GP DFW Last Chance Trial Winner

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Wilberto Molina's Blue-Black Midrange – GP DFW Last Chance Trial Winner

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Jaden Urdiales' Blue-Red God-Pharaoh's Gift – GP DFW Last Chance Trial Winner

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Congratulations to all Day 1 Competitors!

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