Friday at Grand Prix Vegas was alive with Legacy players, cosplayers, artists, art enthusiasts, and more, because GP Vegas has both four days of top competitive play, but also a wealth of events, sights, and activities for everyone.
Friday's top moments at GP Vegas include the exciting conclusion of the Legacy event, as the 2,656 players that entered the tournament were whittled away until one emerged victorious, hoisting the first of three trophies awarded this weekend. They also include a peek inside the convention center hall and surrounding rooms, and a look at some of the work that goes into being successful in Legacy.
A Vorthos Paradise
At Artist Alley, over 30 of Magic’s talented artists were available to sign cards, prints, and playmats. Grand Prix are also great places to get your hands on some more unconventional pieces, like the giant banner of Harmless Offering that Howard Lyon harmlessly offered to the first willing buyer.
Grand Prix Vegas also features the first-ever Magic Art Show, a wonderful feat of vision, collaboration, and logistical maneuvering. The show was spearheaded by Mike Linnemann, known as Vorthos Mike on Twitter, a proponent of all things Magic art-related.
“The idea’s been around a really long time," Linnemann said. “What’s new is the actual execution of it – we needed to actually build a team, to actually talk to collectors, to have someone that collectors know, we need to have people that can help us. We need everyone trying to hit this goal. It just took a ringleader to do that, and I roped everyone together and said, ‘let’s make this happen! Let’s stop talking and start doing!' And here’s the fruit of our labors."
“The biggest hurdle was logistics," Linnemann said. “The hard part is how do you ship all of these artworks across the country, to one location in a temporary space, at the right window, with a small staff, and nothing gets broken? That was by far the hardest thing."
For Linnemann, the joy of the Magic Art Show isn’t just the show itself, but sharing the experience and appreciation of Magic art with so many other people.
“Being able to listen in on conversations, to hear people say ‘I never looked at this before, I never realized this before.' That sort of joy of being the Vorthos person, as other people are approaching it, has been the greatest thing," he said.
For anyone at Grand Prix Vegas, the Magic Art Show should not be missed.
Planeswalkers Converge on Vegas
Cosplay takes creativity, time, artistry, research, and a lot of skill in patterning, sewing, draping, and construction - and that’s before these incredible artists even make it to the event floor. Once there, it also requires, one would imagine, a lot of stamina.
Walking through the hall at Grand Prix Vegas today was like rapidly plane-hopping from one Planeswalker’s home world to another. It also sometimes caused what felt like double- or triple-vision, as different iterations of the same ‘walkers bumped into each other.
Transporting these elaborate creations is its own feat, as some parts of the cosplay, like Nissa’s staff, need to be broken into their component parts for travel, then reassembled to look as though they’re one complete piece. In the case of Nadine Grendelmeir’s Nissa cosplay, this involves molding the edges where pieces are detachable to make it look as though they’re not.
“I’ve been doing this for a little more than a year now, and it’s just been the best time ever," Grendelmeir said. “I’ve met so many wonderful people. It feels like a family to me, any time I go to a GP, and I miss people when there’s like, a month break. It’s been amazing."
It’s a Miracle!
At the end of Round 11, only two players, and two decks, remained undefeated. One of those two decks was a white-blue control list, piloted by Sam Roukas, that will look at least passingly familiar to Legacy players because of the many cards it has in common with the past titan of the format, Miracles. The two have enough in common that the deck is, at least for the time being, going by the same name.
Miracle’s past core of Sensei’s Divining Top and Counterbalance is gone, one banned and the other cut from the deck, no longer effective without the one-mana artifact. Some of these new versions of Miracles still play a full four Terminus, plus a copy of Entreat the Angels, while others cut the Entreat and shave a copy or two of Terminus.
But what cards step into the void left by the former Miracles’ two-card combo? Most notably, many of these new Miracles decks include four copies of Portent, a sorcery that facilitates deck manipulation. They also play four copies of Predict, a card sometimes present in older version of the deck, though not as a four-of.
The rest of the deck remains the same, with the usual amount of variation between one list and another. It revolves around removal and countermagic, plus some classic creatures and Planeswalkers like Snapcaster Mage and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Will this deck have the power needed to make it in Legacy? Early results indicate that it at least has a chance, with Roukas’ list falling just outside the Top 16, and two other white-blue control lists making the Top 16, but only time will tell.
Putting in the Work Pays Off
Zachary Koch was the last remaining undefeated player in the Legacy event at Grand Prix Vegas, making it through twelve rounds before picking up a loss. Koch’s wins can be traced to his appreciation for and love of Legacy, a format he enjoys so much that he ended up being instrumental in developing a community of Legacy players in and around Huntsville, Alabama.
“When I started getting into Legacy, playing on the StarCityGames Open Series, I had played through a couple of different decks and decided I really liked the format," Koch said. “I made some friends locally who were a little bit into Legacy, but there wasn’t a very big community. I felt like there was potential to make an actual scene, and I started up a series, originally calling it the Huntsville Legacy Tour. It was non-sanctioned, and mostly just to get people interested."
Eventually, enthusiasm for Legacy grew the tournament attendance to the point where the events were sanctioned.
“Initially it was all Huntsville natives. There were two major card shops in the area, and I would alternate between each one for hosting. It grew enough that we started getting attention from the Atlanta area, Nashville, Birmingham, Decatur, sort of all around Huntsville. Now, it’s a monthly event, and we regularly get around 30, and sometimes up to 35 or 40, people."
“I think it’s become really popular, there’s a lot of people who really like it. People have been talking about potentially trying to do FNMs that are Legacy now that there’s enough people. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but it’s inspiring to know that that much grew out of it. I can’t say I expected it, but I’m really happy that it did."
And the first trophy goes to . . .
Miami Magic player Andrew Calderon was one of seven fresh faces in the Grand Prix Las Vegas Legacy playoffs, with Death and Taxes—the powerful white-based creature deck that taxes many common Legacy plays by making their spells cost more mana—guiding him to his very first GP Top 8. His Top 8 path involved battling through a gauntlet of Delver decks, as he quickly blasted through his quarterfinals and semifinals before facing off against Jonathan Semeyn—a Lansing, Michigan player also in his first Top 8—and his Grixis Delver deck in the finals.
The first game became dominated by Umezawa’s Jitte from Calderon, and once it was equipped to a creature and got its first set of counters, momentum never swung away from him after that as Semeyn struggled to keep a single threat in play. The second game had Calderon sticking an early Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, hindering Semeyn’s ability to develop his hand. The legendary creature ultimately forced Semeyn to play Bedlam Revevler to find some new cards, but a Flickerwisp moved the demon out of the way for Thalia and a Sanctum Prelate to put Semeyn into a bind that he could not recover from.
“I owe it to Pro-Play Games for providing me what I needed to win today," he said, thanking his friends and local store reps who were rooting him on from the sidelines during the Top 8 matches. Congratulations once again to Andrew Calderon on his first Grand Prix Top 8 and victory!