Grand Prix Indianapolis Top Moments

Posted in Event Coverage on August 27, 2017

By Marc Calderaro

It was the final weekend for Hour of Devastation Limited. And it will be missed, and it will be remembered. We'll fondly remember playing 19 land in draft decks and not flood out. We'll fondly remember when we beat that unbeatable God, exiling it with a Ruin Rat. We'll remember the time we realized Overwhelming Splendor and Approach the Second Sun were both, not only playable, but pretty darn good.

And it's likely we'll remember Grand Prix Indianapolis—the last outing of our beloved friend.

Here are just a few of the great moments from the weekend.

The World's Coolest Commit // Memory

"Did you see that?!" Brian David-Marshall yelled as he ran back into the coverage area after Round 9 ended.

"Did you see that?!" Lipp echoed, racing in 20 seconds after Brian, breaking up his recounting of the story.

We did. We all saw it.

The last play on camera in Day 1 was Team Massdrop's Scott Lipp's dramatic way to finish 9-0.

Facing down a killer Majestic Myriarch, Lipp used the Commit side of Commit // Memory, to remove it from play. Then calmly untapped and cast Memory to (a) shuffle the big creature deep into the deck, and (b) MAKE A MOUNTAIN OF INSECT TOKENS WITH THE LOCUST GOD!

The lead-up was unassuming, and then the climax hit like a train into Godzilla—deadly for anyone not a 200-foot-tall thunderous lizard.

Scott Lipp's Return Really Sinking In

Speaking of Massdrop West's Scott Lipp, he spent a lot of time in the feature match area this weekend. Though he eventually lost his win-and-in against Andrew Cuneo for the Top 8, his swaggering personality was omnipresent in the arena for the majority of both days of the tournament. His return to the game is a story worth knowing.

Lipp's story from 13-year-old wunderkind to father, gamestore owner, and Grand Prix winner has been an exciting one, and we sat down to talk after one of his many wins this weekend.

"Yeah I've been playing competitively starting at," Lipp thought momentarily, "twelve years old." He sat comfortably in his chair as he chatted. "You know, I was the one playing Mike Long in side events—in like, Vintage tournaments and stuff."

"I was like the little kid prodigy," he joked. "You know, I was qualified for JSS [Junior Super Series] on rating and stuff like that ... I Q'ed for a Pro Tour off rating, but I couldn't go ‘cause it was in Japan." And little kids can't often go to Japan.

Reminiscing about those old days, Lipp said, "Man, I was talking with Gerry [Thompson] about how he beat me in his first ever PTQ finals ... it was crazy." Scott and Gerry quite have remained solid since then.

Lipp built a solid reputation during those old days of 1997. And used that tween and teen cred into a career that has shaped his whole life. "For me, Magic is a huge part of my whole life; I've built my business off my reputation," and now as a bigger part of the whole community, the game means something more to him.

"I started Spanky's Card Shop six or seven years ago," he said. "I had a kid, and, you know, decided to do something with my life and quit messing around."

"On Massdrop , I wrote about how important it is—for both kids and parents—to use Magic as bonding experience." [The article, called " Hidden Values in Magic ", is a wonderful read, featuring some great photos of Niko, Lipp's adorable son.] Lipp believes that Magic was amazing for his growth as a child, and now also as an adult.

"Look, it's not a surprise that when you look at the kids from that era—people like Ben Stark and Jon Finkel—they become successful in whatever they do," Lipp said. This is why he puts so much into his store.

"We're is community-driven—I know almost everyone's first name—and building that community is really the foundation of the whole store ... I travel with a lot of them to events, and play with them all the time, giving any advice they want."

But how'd he get from the store to the Pro Tour lights? "After I got the A'OK from the wife—and my kid got a bit older ... I started traveling to a couple Grand Prix." Lipp learned quickly that he still had it, and finished in the Top 8 of his second Grand Prix—Omaha 2015.

"It was crazy because I never really felt off; I mean, I just tried a little push, and if it didn't work, it didn't work." But it did, and just like that, he was back on the tour. "Q'ing for those Pro Tours was really great, because that's where I met Andrew Brown and Ben Weitz and those guys. Because when I came back, I didn't really know anyone except Gerry."

"I got 30 Pro Points in two finishes, and my win percentage is something like 85%." He said, "I had no idea about that number, but apparently [Magic commentator] Ian Duke picked me as the PT sleeper, because I had some crazy win percentage."

Since returning to the game, Lipp has hoped to parlay his success into something different that most professional Magic competitors. "Look, my goal is to try to stay as competitive as possible to feel like I'm not wasting my spare time, and maybe—maybe—get to see my son get the itch too." Lipp already would extoll his excitement when players in his store like Kyle Peters qualified for the Pro Tour; he can't help but think about the potential for his son.

"He's competitive like me; he's competitive, man. And he gets it too ... We'll see if it's something he wants to pursue." Lipp continued, "He had a blast at the Super Sunday Series Championship at Wizards ... and he is so stoked about Ixalan for the dinosaurs. Literally his first deck was full of Old Fogeys and Deathmist Raptors!"

Throughout this whole intertwined Magic and personal life, Lipp said, "I've seen people come and go, and no matter where you are in life, you gotta make the right decisions for you. But this will always be there," he pointed to the giant hall filled with Magic players, "and your Magic friends will always be there." He paused for a moment. "It'll be even better when my boy comes, I hope." Lipp smiled.

Surviving the Pod of Death – The Kyle Boggemes Story

I got a desperate message last night from Gold Pro Rob Pisano.

He was referring to a Pod of Death in the two-loss bracket for the second day. Pisano had been 7-0, and though he lost the last two rounds, at least consoled himself with the fact that he'd have an easier second day. This was not to be.

Here's some quick coverage notes, I had written up for the broadcasters about the Pod of Death's finishes:

The two least be-trophied players had: (1) A Grand Prix Top 8 and finished Top 16 last week; and (2) Top 8'ed a Grand Prix this year, and won a Magic Online PTQ last season.

Despite tenth-ranked Owen Turtenwald's heel-wrestler taunts that "Sigrist is gonna lose—no reason to cover him anymore," no one was a sure thing going into the pod. This was a Pro Tour top table nestled in the middle of a Grand Prix.

In Round 12, former Player of the Year Mike Sigrist faced off against Pro Tour San Diego Finalist Kyle Boggemes to determine who would stay in contention for the Top 8—and the "I Survived the Murder Pod and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt" gift prize. Because everyone was X-2 already, a single loss meant Top 8 dreams were dashed.

Boggemes took down Sig-Daddy, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and moved on to the next pod. Which he had to again 3-0.

And the various insect Gods were not content punishing Boggemes yet. Despite having just beat a former Player of the Year, he would have to beat both Huang Hao-Shan and Ben Stark to make it to the Top 8. And Boggemes did it.

Then in the Top 8, he had to fight through both Pro Tour winner Steve Rubin and Andrew Cuneo.

It was Cuneo who finally proved the unslayable monster.

But though Boggemes only took home a plaque, that plaque has etched on it the huge number of Pro player kills Boggemes had to tally up to get it. Boggemes played a Pro Tour when everyone else played a Grand Prix—and he came in second. Not too bad.

Andrew Cuneo's Practice Finally Pays Off

Team Puzzle Quest's Andrew Cuneo loves this format. Anytime a Pro player practices day in and day out for over two months with a Limited format and comes out saying how good it is, means they really love it.

Andrew Cuneo practiced this format like no other. And he was rewarded early on with a Top 8 in Toronto. But Pro Tour Hour of Devastation didn't quite go to plan, even as early as the draft rounds he had just thoroughly dominated. "I started the day against two Platinum Pros, and it didn't go very well," he said.

But after tearing through the Swiss rounds here, Cuneo tore through the Top 8 without dropping a game. His powerful White-Blue decked was headlined by the powerful, creature-hatin', frown-makin', game-endin' Overwhelming Splendor.

Cuneo didn't draw many of his marquee cards throughout the Top 8, so he had to lean into the enchantment that made all his opponents' stars into dwarves.

In his trademark stoicism, Cuneo remained calm when he was behind, and equally calm when he completely flipped the script on his victims.

But after Cuneo hoisted the well-earned trophy, he took off his hat, bent in half at the waist almost touching the ground, let out a huge sigh of relief and said, "I'm so glad all that practice paid off." His eyes went wide for just a minute, and he stayed frozen for just a moment, before collecting his things and heading out the door.

Cuneo's second Hour of Devastation Limited Top 8, and third Limited Top 8 in a row was a fitting finale for the block that saw the return of Bolas.

It was a great weekend for a great format—and I hope Ixalan will fill the holes in our heart left by Hour's departure. But I know full well that Amonkhet will keep some part of our heart for a while to come.

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