Top 5 Moments

Posted in Event Coverage on August 29, 2016

By Frank Karsten and Marc Calderaro

5. Worlds Competitors Take a Quick Break from Magic for More Magic!

Though the Magic World Championship is just a few short days away, five Worlds competitors took time out from their testing to sling some cardboard for fun. Second-ranked Seth Manfield, fifth-ranked Steve Rubin, twelfth-ranked Andrea Mengucci, and two fourteenth-ranked players, Mike Sigrist and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, all hung out and got some real-world experience for the Modern rounds of Worlds.

Proving once again that they aren't just pretty faces, Pro Tour Hall of Famer Damo da Rosa finished 15th, former Player of the Year Mike Sigrist 18th, and Seth “Unstoppable” Manfield 22nd. They were right in it until the end.

Though they missed the Top 8, oh well, I guess they'll have to go play for some bigger stakes in a few days!


4. Valakuts Abound!

Of the many playable archetypes in Modern, one that never seems to get respect these days is Red-Green Valakut. There's no good reason for that—the deck is “the nutter butters,” to put it in popular Magic-player vernacular. Who doesn't want to cheat out Primeval Titan and lob molten lava at people via Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle?

Well, certainly finalist Rob Pisano and semifinalist Scott Lipp do. They used the power of the Pinnacle to vault themselves into the elimination rounds. In fact, for Scott Lipp, this was his second Top 8 with the deck—doing the same in Omaha last year.

Lipp's version is slightly different, also jamming in Through the Breach and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn—his pet deck in Modern he calls “Spaghetti with Meatballs.” (You see, Emrakul is the spaghetti, with all the wiggly tentacles, and the meatballs are the gobs of molten lava from the Valakut.)

But between the two of them, Mr. Prime Time, the 6/6 that could, is making his presence felt again.


3. Scott Lipp Runs Back His Top 8 and Apes an Amazing Play Once There

Speaking of Scott “Spanky” Lipp, the Team East West Bowl member has had a busy month. Thanks to this and Sydney, he's doubled his lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s.

Last month in Sydney, he aimed only to clinch Gold. He got a lot more when he took down the entire Grand Prix! And now here he was, doing the Top 8 all over again.

Lipp had a lot to enjoy about this weekend, but surely some of it must have come from the play that rocked the Top 8. His quarterfinals opponent, Mason Linne, got served real hard at the hands of a particular unexpected ape.

Linne opened the sideboarded game and cast a Springleaf Drum off Glimmervoid. Though it was potentially risky, he knew Lipp's only artifact removal was Ancient Grudge, which cost two mana. So he was pretty good, right?

Lipp retorted, “How ‘bout Simian Spirit Guide?” Lipp cast a first-turn Ancient Grudge thanks to the Ape Spirit, which sent Linne back into the Stone Age. Well, really, before the Stone Age, because he was left with nothing at all, a completely empty board.

Spanky's star has been on the rise for a while now, and with plays and finishes like this, it's easy to see why.


2. This Graph – 43% “Other”

Yo. Check out this pie chart.

That percentage, 43% “Other,” is pretty amazing. Here's the entire Day 1 Top 100 Metagame Breakdown. If that percentage of “Other” were on a food label, you wouldn't eat that food, but if that's in your Modern format, we'll gobble it all up.

Throughout the weekend, the Twitch chat was rooting for decks like Five-Color Ziggurat, Mono-Blue Delver (aka “SnapDelverThing”), Red-White Blood Moon Walkers, and tons of others that floated through the feature match area round in and round out. Red-Green Land Destruction was even gettin' on in there. Mwonvuli Acid-Moss for the win!

In fact, there were so many great decks, instead of writing just the Top 9-32 decklists, we did the Top 33-64 decklists as well, because we were just too excited.

We considered doing yet another metagame breakdown with all these decks at the end of the day, but you know, we gotta leave something for the content creators, right?

(Psst! Just for you, content creators, here are easy links to the GP Lille Top 64, and the GP Guangzhou Top 32 and Top 64. You're welcome.)

Modern's sweet.

 


1. Brandon Burton Takes It Down

Most North American grinders on the Grand Prix circuit have known about Brandon Burton for a while. He's an incredibly skilled player, and with his mother assisting his plays, they're a duo for the ages.

The outside world learned about Brandon at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, where he finished in the Top 32. His amazing profile can be found here. If you haven't read, you have to. If you have read it, it's time to read it again.

This weekend, Indianapolis learned about Brandon Burton. He was on point all tournament long, piloting his favorite Modern deck, Burn. With mother Elizabeth Burton in tow, holding his cards and activating abilities out of Brandon's reach, he tore through everyone in his path on an inexorable march to the Top 8.

But it didn't stop there. Burton went all the way to the finals, then won the trophy in the classiest, sweetest way possible—with three Lightning Bolts in a row to his opponent's head.

How his mother poker-faced in the moments before her son was about to win $10,000, I'll never know. Because right after he won—and the entire audience exploded in applause—she hid from the crowds and cried.

In all my years on the Grand Prix, I've never heard an audience erupt like that.

Burton always knew he had it in him, he just had to prove it to everyone else.

Consider it proven, Brandon. The world is still listening.

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