The first of three Grand Prix champions has been crowned, with Grand Prix Lille and Grand Prix Indianapolis still in progress. In the meantime, let's revel in the most exciting moments in Guangzhou that will be etched in our memories for years to come.
5. Liliana, the Last Hope comes to life in Guangzhou.
The Chinese are avid fans of Magic and are always excited whenever the Grand Prix circuit visits China—and even more so when it arrived at Guangzhou for the very first time!
Guangzhou may not be as large a metropolitan city as Beijing or Shanghai, but that didn't stop hundreds of local players from making the traverse. Some of them even dressed up for the joyous occasion, and the best cosplay award simply has to go to this beautiful young lady!
4. Ryoichi Tamada proves that he's worthy of being at the World Championship.
No. 8-ranked Shota Yasooka and No. 19-Ranked Yuuya Watanabe were nowhere to be seen this weekend, presumably hard at work preparing for the World Championship (which is to take place next week). This made No. 22-ranked Ryoichi Tamada the highest-ranked player in the room and also one of three representatives from the Asia-Pacific region attending the World Championship next weekend.
That's not to say that Tamada was slacking off. Instead he chose to "practice" at a Grand Prix, conveniently making the Top 8. Aside from adding white mana for a full playset of Lightning Helix (as well as Rest for the Weary in the sideboard), he also decided to further streamline his combo deck with four copies of Thing in the Ice to complement his whooping 20 card-drawing spells!
What a great way to kickstart the 2016–2017 season! Will Tamada be running the same deck at the World Championship next week? We'll see!
3. Kelvin Chew brews his way into the Top 8!
Not everyone is brave enough to experiment with newer cards, preferring to take the tried and tested path in the face of an important tournament. While most players stuck to traditional archetypes (not saying that it is a bad thing!), Kelvin Chew took the leap of faith and included a total of eight Eldritch Moon cards within his 75, more than any other competitor this weekend!
Quickly identifying Spell Queller as an extremely powerful card, Chew modified his pet deck (Bant Knightfall) to successfully create a new archetype that will pave the way for all future Modern tournaments to come, in particular the upcoming World Magic Cup Qualifiers! Expect to experience Bant Company not only in Standard, but in Modern as well!
This solidifies him as one of Singapore's best deck builders and innovators, and the Silver pro will be on his way to Pro Tour Kaladesh in Honolulu despite crashing out at the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier last week.
What a sweet comeback!
2. Goblin Guides threatened to burn down the house!
As mentioned in the metagame breakdown, there were at total of 47 archetypes represented in Day Two, with around fifteen of them being the most dominant. Despite the diverse field, that didn't stop two copies of Naya Burn from cracking the Top 8, along with six other different decks.
Jia Hao was the only local representative at the playoffs and made the cut effortlessly by going 9-0 in Day One and becoming the first player to lock up his spot. He even had sufficient breathing room to try and knock out Ryoichi Tamada in Round 15 to open up a slot for his friends but to no avail.
Similarly, Wu Kon Fai also opted to run Goblin Guide, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Monastery Swiftspear but deviated away from traditional stock lists to include Wild Nacatl, a card that made all the difference in numerous matchups. His judgment paid off handsomely and he was able to make it all the way to the finals in his very first Grand Prix Top 8!
This story goes to show that as the metagame shifts, any Goblin can have its day!
1. Albertus Law wins his second Grand Prix!
It's not every day that we crown a repeat Grand Prix Champion.
When Albertus Law arrived in Guangzhou, he had high hopes but didn't really expect to come this far. However, when he made it through to his fourth lifetime Grand Prix Top 8, he wanted nothing other than to win the entire thing.
And he did!
By defeating Wu Kon Fai in the finals, Law joined an elite group of players to have won two Grand Prix, and the fact that he did it with a fifteen-year gap in between victories makes it an even more memorable achievement.
Open question to Brian David-Marshall: Is Albertus Law the repeat Grand Prix champion with the longest gap between victories? Regardless of the answer, this weekend belongs to Albertus Law, our inaugural Grand Prix Guangzhou 2016 Champ!