Highlights of Grand Prix Los Angeles Day 2

Posted in Event Coverage on August 20, 2018

By Corbin Hosler

Nearly 1,100 players came to sunny Los Angeles to… well, most of the room turned up to light the tournament on fire, given the presence of red decks. Plenty more showed up intent on stopping them, and the Top 8 featured six unique archetypes. With multiple players chasing down status and titles on Day 2, here's the highlights of the tournament.

Player of the Year Race

While there were two tournaments this weekend – Grand Prix in L.A. and Providence – for a handful of players there is more on the line than just this weekend's results. The race for Player of the Year is essentially a three-player heat between leader Seth Manfield and Reid Duke and Luis Salvatto, who are one and two points behind, respectively. There is some nuance to the number of pro points each can gain – each player gets to count the points from their six best GP finishes – and it's Salvatto who best positioned there, with three one-point finishes on his tally, while Duke has a pair of two-point finishes at the bottom and Manfield's lowest tally is three. Essentially, that means the bar is lower for Salvatto to make up ground than it is for either other player to distance themselves from him, and he had his first shot of the next month here in Los Angeles.

Things started well for Salvatto, who ended Day 1 at 7-1 while Duke flamed out in Providence and Manfield fell off as Day 2 progressed. But the wheels came off – at least for someone with goals as lofty as Salvatto's – and his 10-5 finish in L.A. meant that the race remains unchanged heading into next weekend's events.

Brewing with Turns

Daniel Wong is committed to his brand. It's an admirable trait for any prolific Magic player, and Wong has developed a brand more unique than most – he's the quad-sleeving extra turns guy. He first gained recognition with a Top 8 appearance with Taking Turns in Modern at Las Vegas last year, playing with fully four different layers of sleeves on his cards. Remember, friends, protecting your deck is important.

While Wong only showed up with three layers in L.A. – he apologized on stream for not having all four – he still managed to take as many turns as possible. He took Nexus of Fate and built from there, turning an Hour of Promise ramp deck into a turn-taking machine.

“I'm a really big fan of taking extra turns," he explained. “Nexus of Fate really speaks to me."

If that was all the deck Wong took deep into Day 2 did, it would still be notable. But he had more.

Cat. Tribal.

Daniel Wong's Ramping Turns

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“I found that I was having a hard time winning games after sideboarding, if my answers didn't line up with their threats," he explained. “So I decided to vary my threats was the way to go, and in these colors the best way to do that was with Cats."

It's a work of beauty, and served Wong very well this weekend.

Ferber Finds Refurbish

Chris Ferber made the Top 8 with what he deemed his “pet deck:" White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift. His feature match against Ari Lax in Round 13 showed why the California native likes the deck so much.

With not much going on in his hand after a timely Doomfall, Ferber needed help off the top of his deck. Search for Azcanta helped, as he binned an Angel of Invention and turned to his draw step in need of help.

Yeah, that counts as help – and it was a key moment in Ferber's Top 8 run.

Six Archetypes in Top 8

Goblin Chainwhirler is still whirling its chains over Standard, but with six different unique decks in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Los Angeles, there are still plenty of options available to players looking to innovate in Standard – White-Blue Auras even went undefeated on Day 1 here.

Here's how the Top 32 broke down:



Black-Red Aggro


Blue-Black Midrange


Turbo Fog


Black-Green Constrictor


Esper Control


Flame of Keld Red


White-Blue Gift


Green-Blue Stompy


Grixis Midrange


Mono-Red Aggro


Steel Leaf Stompy


Sultai Constrictor


White-Blue Control


White-Blue Approach


Jaberwocki Comes to Paper Magic

Logan Nettles isn't exactly an unknown quantity – he made the Top 4 of Grand Prix Santa Clara earlier this year – but he's certainly got less name recognition than his Magic Online account Jaberwocki. The terror of Magic Online grinders everywhere, Nettles is now settling into the same role in paper Magic – pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Reid Duke's cousin.

Nettles brought Standard's best deck Black-Red Aggro to Los Angeles, and played it to perfection while carving his way through a loaded Top 8 that included Hall of Famer Eric Froehlich and former Grand Prix winner Larry Li.

None of that was enough to stop Nettles, who met Ben Friedman's Blue-Black Midrange in the finals and proved that no one could stop the Jaberwocki this weekend – he took the title in two quick games and can now add Grand Prix champion to his long list of accomplishment.

Nettles plans to play more paper Magic over the next year, and you can consider notice served to the rest of the Magic world.

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