Magic just couldn't stay away from the bright lights of Vegas. It’s been a year since the last Grand Prix here in the city of sin, and the 2018 version is bigger and better than ever, as more than 2,700 players flocked to the city to compete in the first Grand Prix event of the weekend, a Modern affair that pitted the tried and true against the innovative and new.
But as exciting as the Modern tournament was, the truth is it was just the tip of the Magic iceberg at GP Vegas. From artist booths to Beta Draft Qualifiers to panels to cosplay, this weekend is truly an event to remember as thousands descended on Nevada to celebrate all things Magic.
Here are the highlights that stood out from Day 1.
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.
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.
Cosplayers are one of the highlights of any event, and it’s no surprise that Vegas upped the ante.
Even Marwyn, the Nurturer made it out to the desert from Dominaria.
25 Years of Serra Angel. Enough Said.
Serra Angel is one of – if not the most iconic creature in Magic history, and Grand Prix Vegas featured a giant, beautiful version of everyone’s favorite 4/4 flying vigilant creature.
More than two decades later, the Angel still shines above the rest.
26 Years of Magic. One Deck.
This event has been a celebration of Magic’s history from the beginning. With “draft through time” events and more all leading to a Rochester Draft of Beta edition, the sustained long-term success of the game is front and foremost this weekend as the game enters its 26th year.
And Eduardo Sajgalik played a card from every one of those years.
“I had to get a few of the Forests here to make it happen, but it was cool to realize the deck worked out this way," he explained.
From Unlimited Llanowar Elves to Shelai, Voice of Plenty, that’s a whole lot of Magic packed into a single deck.
Children and the Korn
Jack Kiefer has earned a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming players in the game right now. Along with his two brothers, the trio has taken the amateur scene by storm and even recently broken through to the Pro Tour.
Jack is also celebrating his 16th birthday today – and all he wanted to do to celebrate was play Magic. He had a chance to do that on the big stage in Round 8, as he faced off against David Oberlin in feature match win-and-in for Day 2.
That would be David Oberlin, touring keyboardist for the famous metal band Korn. The group was formed in Bakersfield, California in 1993, and has achieved enormous success in the 25 years since and earned two Grammy awards in the process. Oberlin began touring the world with the band nearly two years ago, but still makes time for all the Magic he can, particularly at his home store of Kingslayer Games in Fountain Valley, California.
“I started touring right out of high school and I fell in love with it," he explained. “That’s how I eventually met the Korn guys, and they needed a guitar player who could also do keyboards. It was nervewracking at first, and there’s been a lot of “just do it and don’t think about it” over the last five years. Playing Magic on tour is hard, but I do my best to find the time. I’ve been playing for almost 20 years, but it wasn’t until Scars of Mirrodin block that I got serious. This is my first GP in seven or eight years."
You can’t ask for a much more compelling match to end the day, and it didn’t disappoint, as the pair played tight games that eventually saw Kiefer’s Jeskai Control deck knock off Oberlin’s Eldrazi Tron.
Juza and Nass Lead the Undefeated
With eight rounds behind us and a race to the Top 8 set for Saturday, the field of nearly 2,800 players is led by Martin Juza – who also is qualified for the Beta draft on Sunday – as well as Matt Nass, Ben Friedman, Thiago Saporito and 14 other undefeated players who will have pole position as we kick off the second day of Grand Prix Vegas.