Grand Prix Las Vegas was truly a spectacle of Magic – nearly 5,000 people played in just the two main Grand Prix events of the weekend, and that just scratched the surface of everything that went on at this event, which included championships for fan-driven formats like Pauper, cosplay, Dungeons and Dragons crossovers, a Limited Edition Beta draft and even a wedding.
It would be impossible to succinctly summarize everything that happened this weekend, but here are some of the moments that stood out.
What Does A 2,700-Player Event Look Like?
Well, the answer is I can't even fully show you what such a truly massive event looks like, because despite climbing as high as I could in the convention hall, I still couldn't capture the entire tournament.
Well, that's at least what part of such a large event looks like – and we still have Dominaria Limited to go, as the second Grand Prix event of the weekend starts Saturday morning.
Even by Vegas standards – a city where Magic events tend to go down in the game's history – this event stood out. It was, after all, a four-day celebration of Magic's 25th anniversary, and it was a weekend to remember.
The Sights of the Show
As mentioned, Grand Prix Vegas is about more than just the main event – after all, Magic is many things to many people, and there's no better way to show that than to explore the event going on outside of the top tables.
And, as it turns out, age is no barrier to enjoying Grand Prix Vegas.
All ages had a great time at the Grand Prix – Serra Angel continues to inspire 25 years later.
Cosplayers are one of the highlights of any event, and it's no surprise that Vegas upped the ante.
Community Rallies Around One of their Own
Wedge from the Mana Source is more than just one of Magic's most popular YouTube personalities – he's a vibrant part of the community and came to Grand Prix Las Vegas ready to spend a weekend hanging out with those who share his passion.
But things didn't go according to plan, and a medical emergency landed Wedge in the hospital in need of immediate surgery. The one bright spot that emerged from a terrible circumstance is that the community rallied around one of their own in a magnificent display of solidarity.
Morning everyone!— Wedge @ #GPVegas (@TheManaSource) June 17, 2018
Today Wedge is being observed in the ICU. Assuming his condition doesn't worsen we will start discussing physical therapy and rehab.
He's out of the woods!! Everything is going to be okay! It'll just take a bit of time. “I love you all!"
-Abbie @MasterOfMagics pic.twitter.com/IP1XY68wD3
Hey guys, Wedge @TheManaSource is an awesome MTG content creator and, even though I've never met him yet, he's passionate, friendly, and a cool guy. I love his videos too =) Help him out if you can: https://t.co/PL4g1XOFJO . If you don't know who he is well, check his videos out! pic.twitter.com/y2iIrdfod0— Amaz (@Amaz) June 16, 2018
Nass Continues to Dominate
The Krark-Clan Ironworks is something that must be seen to be believed. Its namesake card has always been a combo machine (ways to “cheat” mana tend to do that), but nothing has topped the power of the current iteration of the deck, which 20th-ranked Matt Nass has innovated and been dominating with.
It started when he broke through with the deck at Grand Prix Phoenix back in March, taking the deck to the semifinals of the tournament and firmly putting the newest version of the deck on the map. And while the actual mechanics of the deck and how it combos can be just a bit convoluted, its power could not be denied for long.
And after Grand Prix Hartford a month later, neither could its consistency – Nass made good on missing out in Phoenix and won the entire event with his deck.
Not a bad run. But even as more players began to pick up the deck – Eli Kassis, Shaheen Soorani and Zac Elsik all sleeved it up for Grand Prix Vegas – no one could outdo the master of the deck. Nass stormed through the tournament and the Top 8, where he eventually defeated Yuri Ramsey's Tron deck in two masterpieces, even winning through Oblivion Stone on the same turn in the deciding game.
Matt's record in the last 3 individual modern events he's played is up to a healthy 35-6. https://t.co/4bwdab2s02— Sam Pardee (@Smdster) June 17, 2018
You can up that record to 36-6 after his third consecutive Modern Grand Prix Top 8 and second straight Modern win, an unheard-of feat that makes clear that Nass stands atop the Modern world right now.
Twitch Chat Gets Trolled
Voice of the Pro Tour and regular actor of antics Rich Hagon has become famous (or infamous) with the Twitch followers of Magic Grand Prix coverage, and his Sunday Morning bits have delighted the Magic world to no end in recent months.
In Vegas, he took it to another level.
We all know how you feel, LSV.
Bernat Beats Them All
Nass wasn't the only Grand Prix champion in Las Vegas. Michael Bernat displayed his prowess at Dominaria Limited – hailed by many as one of the best Limited formats of all time – all weekend on his way to an exciting victory in a truly massive tournament that still somehow featured a star-studded Top 8.
Bernat had to work his way through pros Andrew Cuneo and Steve Rubin to make the finals of the Top 8 against Austin Mowrey, whose Blue-Red Wizards deck was the toughest challenge yet for Bernat's White-Blue Historic deck. But thanks to tight play even as his life total teetered dangerously low for much of a nailbiter of a second game, Bernat persevered and was rewarded with the trophy and the title of Grand Prix Las Vegas Limited Champion.
King of the Side Events Breaks Through in the Biggest of Them All
I could tell you the story of Hemant Patel – who was dubbed the Kkng of the Side Events and once qualified for the Pro Tour solely on virtue of being the top planeswalker points earner in the world, but I could never do a better job than my colleague Marc Calderaro, who shared Patel's story in a series of tweets that went viral earlier in the weekend.
I wish I had time to write an article about #BetaDraft-qualified competitor, Hemant Patel, but I don't—#GPVegas is INSANELY busy—so I have to settle for an un-fact-checked tweet storm instead, explaining why you should be rooting for him tonight. 1/ pic.twitter.com/1jccSK2gvZ— Marc @ #GPVegas (@MarcCalderaro) June 17, 2018
Most people dream of their wedding day. Of the lights, the flowers, the guests, the meticulously laid plans, the food and so much more. But no one could dream of a wedding quite like this – but it was exactly the dream wedding that Danielle and Robert got at Grand Prix Las Vegas.
(Corbin) There's more to #GPVegas than just a tournament - there was also a wedding. And to no one's surprise, @ReidDuke was asked to walk the bride down the aisle. Readings included the comp rules for Soulbond. Congrats to Danielle and Robert! pic.twitter.com/Jt0hIGSUd4— Magic Pro Tour (@magicprotour) June 17, 2018
#GPVegas is the event where I accidentally became a professional wedding photographer (I'm not, but I tried my best). Here's a few of my favorites - and congrats to Danielle and Robert! pic.twitter.com/zTZYwlnGxZ— Corbin Hosler (@Chosler88) June 17, 2018
Congrats to the newly married couple!
The Beta Draft
You knew it was all leading to this – the most anticipated draft possibly in the history of Magic. Eight players from eight qualifying tournaments and 24 packs of Limited Edition Beta straight from Wizards of the Coast. It was no surprise that star pros and Hall of Famers like Luis Scott-Vargas, Ben Stark and Martin Juza all qualified for the event.
Perhaps no event has had more grassroots hype leading up to it, and yet somehow the Beta draft still blew past all expectations, certainly thanks in part to the Mox Emerald opened live on camera.
John Holliday, Matthew Goslar, Ian Suzuki, Martin Juza, Ben Stark, Tim Rivera, Luis Scott-Vargas and Hemant Patel were the lucky eight to get to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime Top 8, and the Rochester Draft portion of the Top 8 was just as exciting as anyone could have hoped.
It was the perfect ending to an incredible event, and any Magic event in Las Vegas in the future has so much to live up to after a historic 2018 in the city.