Day 1 Highlights of Grand Prix Lyon 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on February 17, 2018

By Frank Karsten

2,058 players started things off for the Grand Prix Lyon main event, and after eight rounds of Modern action, only 387 players reached the minimum of 18 match points (6-2 or better) required to advance to Day 2.

Let's dive into Day 1 in a nutshell.

MODERN'S VARIETY ON DISPLAY

Coming on the heels of Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan and Grand Prix Toronto, Modern's diversity was booming. Both Top 8s contained seven different archetypes, with only one repeat archetype (Traverse Shadow) between them.

To get a feel for the deck choices this weekend, I checked in with the players who had three byes. Of the 2,058 players in attendance here in Lyon, sixteen were Gold/Platinum members of the Pro Players Club or in the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Here is what they played:

White-Blue Control was the deck that a quarter of the three-bye pros put their confidence in. The interactive aspects, the feeling of control over the game, and the land disruption angle provided by Field of Ruin were praised in particular.

Beyond that, there were plenty of interesting choices. Interestingly though, no one in this group opted for Bogles (the deck that Dan Ward used to win Grand Prix Toronto) and only one of them ran Lantern Control (the deck that Luis Salvatto used to win the Pro Tour). You may guess who the Lantern player was.

Somewhat surprisingly, No. 11 Javier Dominguez and No. 13 Andrea Mengucci shied away from the Five-Color Humans deck that carried them the Top 8 of Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan only two weeks ago. "I think it was a good choice for the metagame we expected at the Pro Tour," Mengucci said. "But at the Pro Tour, the interactive decks did well. We saw a lot of control decks, Mardu Pyromancer, Traverse Shadow… And Humans is not very good against the interactive decks." So he switched to Burn—his second choice for the Pro Tour and the deck that he felt was better-positioned for this weekend's metagame.

While his reasoning made sense in theory, Mengucci's deck choice did not pay off. Neither of the two Burn players with three byes (Mattia Rizzi was the other) managed to make Day 2. All other three-bye pros advanced.

ZERO UNBANNED CARDS WERE REGISTERED

Last Monday, it was announced that Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf would be unbanned in Modern. While Magic Online implemented these changes on Wednesday, paper Magic was waiting until next Monday so that players traveling to Grand Prix Lyon this weekend would not be affected. No main event player made the mistake of registering Bloodbraid Elf or Jace today.

That said, the Magic judges were still able to spot them…somehow.

 

DANA FISCHER COMES TO EUROPE

Dana Fischer, combining a family trip to Europe with her quest to become the youngest player ever to make Day 2, participated in her first Grand Prix in Europe and got her best result to date.

The seven-year-old superstar has become a regular on the American Grand Prix circuit, but this marked her first visit to Europe. "This is my first time in a different continent." She combined the Grand Prix with a family trip to England, Switzerland, and France with her father and sister. But Magic was what started the whole trip.

Her dad Adam, wearing his Pro Tour Nice 2002 competitor shirt, sat beside her all day, taking notes on his phone and debriefing her after every match on what she did right and what she could have done better. "That really helps me," Dana said.

She played against a few more foreign cards here in France than she might in the U.S., but that didn't bother her. "If I know what the card is, I can recognize it by picture, because that's how I learned how to play Magic. I learned to play before I could read."

Playing her trusty Elves deck and carrying custom-made tokens, Dana got off to an impressive 4-0 start—her best start to a Grand Prix to date.

In her Round 2 feature match against Thomas Florez De Uria and his Bogles deck, she even managed to overcome a 20-power first strike, vigilance, lifelink creature. She kept calm, realized exactly how her deck could beat that, and used Chord of Calling to complete the trio of Devoted Druid, Vizier of the Anointed, and Ezuri, Renegade Leader.

Unfortunately, she lost her next three matches in a row and ended the day at 5-3. But Dana was very happy with her result: it was her best finish to date, and she also gained enough Planeswalker Points to lock up two byes for Grand Prix Phoenix, her next event. That Grand Prix Day 2 is inching closer and closer!

According to Dana, the current Grand Prix Day 2 age record is 10 years 10 months, so she still has about three more years to reach her goal. From the coverage team, we'd like to congratulate Dana on reaching new milestones today, and we wish her best of luck in future events!

CLIP: STREET WRAITH BEATDOWN

A lot of awesome games were shown on the twitch.tv/magic channel today. Let's start with Jean-Emmanual Depraz, who made a few adjustments to the Traverse Shadow deck that he recently piloted to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. Most notably, he added Architects of Will. Thanks to cycling, it's a cheap way to get both an artifact and a creature into the graveyard for Traverse the Ulvenwald and Tarmogoyf.

But you can also win the game by casting it, as he showed in his Round 3 feature match. Flanked by Street Wraith, his motley assortment of creatures swung in for the kill. Street Wraith couldn't even be blocked!

CLIP: 26-LOYALTY KARN GETS REPLACED

Even for Karn Liberated, 26 loyalty is an unusually large number of loyalty counters. Normally it would have already gone ultimate, but No. 8 Martin Jůza kept ticking up Karn in his Round 4 feature match. His rationale was that his Storm opponent wouldn't be able to combo off if he kept on attacking his hand, and restarting the game would leave him in a less favorable position.

And when you're on that plan, you have to stick to it. Jůza was not afraid to replace his 26-loyalty Karn with a fresh one to continue the assaults on his opponent's hand.

CLIP: THE MIND BOGGLES, BUT THE SLIPPERY BOGLES

Dan Ward's victory at Grand Prix Toronto last weekend caused a resurgence of discussions on how to pronounce Slippery Bogle. For everyone's benefit, here is commentator Tim Willoughby's.

CLIP: HOW MUCH LIFE?

When you are able to trigger Kitchen Finks an arbitrarily large amount of times, you can gain as much life as you want. But you still have to pick a number. In his Round 5 feature match, Toni Ramis Pascual gained 200 trillion life, prompting viewers in the Twitch chat to share their favorite amounts of life to gain.

You can pick whatever you like, but one thing is clear: As confirmed by commentator Riley Knight, a squillion is not a number.

Bizarrely, despite gaining all that life and even more mana with Devoted Druid later on, Toni Ramis Pascual still eventually lost that game to Karn Liberated. That planeswalker showed up a lot today.

CLIP: 4 KARNS IN HAND

Javier Dominguez's hand in Round 6 was complete Karnage, but sometimes it's not all about Karn advantage. After he lost all of his lands to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn propelled by Through the Breach, he held the full quartet but never got close to casting them.


13 PLAYERS UNDEFEATED

Thirteen players reached the end of Day 1 with undefeated 8-0 records, representing nine different archetypes. The duplicate archetypes were Tron, Lantern, Burn, and Mardu Pyromancer. All undefeated decklists will be posted as a separate article at the start of Round 15 tomorrow. Meanwhile, learn more about the undefeated players below.


KIM STRÖH

Age: 31

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

Occupation: High school Teacher

Number of byes: 2 (Bronze level)

Previous Magic accomplishments: GP Copenhagen 2017 Top 8. I was 9-1 and 10-2 at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, but I lost the last four rounds.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Lantern Control. It feels like the best deck in the format. I expected a lot of Humans, Mardu, Burn, and some Bogles, so the deck feels well positioned.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I'm not sure. I don't think any of the cards will go into the deck, but I might have to alter the maindeck/sideboard if Jace becomes too dominant.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? On a mulligan to six, I kept a zero-lander with Lantern of Insight, Codex Shredder, Whir of Invention, Inquisition of Kozilek, and two Mishra's Bauble on the play. I won that game


RICARDO SÁNCHEZ

Age: 23

Hometown: Madrid, Spain

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: Top 4 at GP Lille 2015.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Gerry Thompson's Mardu. Because I was told I couldn't play Storm.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Slamming Hazoret the Fervent as if I was playing Standard.


LEONARDO DALMASSO

Age: 24

Hometown: Italy

Occupation: Influencer

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: Once I finished an online league 3-2.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Burn, with four Emrakul main deck because during testing I was flooding a lot and I needed a mana sink. [Editor's note: That's a creative way of describing Jeskai Breach.]

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I'll probably play some copies of Bloodghast to fight opposing Jaces.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? After burning my opponent down to 3 life, he played Leyline of Sanctity and I couldn't finish him off with my burn spells. But my flooding-skill abilities let me hardcast Emrakul eventually.


FLORIAN KOCH

Age: 36

Hometown: Aachen, Germany

Occupation: Writer for ChannelFireball.com

Number of byes: 2 (Bronze level)

Previous Magic accomplishments: Winner of Grand Prix Lyon 2010; three other GP Top 8s.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Grixis Death's Shadow. I have played Traverse Shadow for ages, but lately felt the need to have access to Stubborn Denial.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I wonder if Jace TMS can somehow be fit into the deck, or something based on this deck, but really no clue yet.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? I won a game against Burn where I was on 2 life and he had two Rest in Peace, Ensnaring Bridge, and I had basically no tools in hand. I plused Liliana of the Veil, expecting to die one or two turns after. My opponent did not find burn for a couple of turns, Liliana ultimated, and my opponent (who did not want to let go of all his lands) had to sacrifice both Rest in Peace and Ensnaring Bridge. I drew Death's Shadow the turn after, and with Stubborn Denial in hand, suddenly my opponent was drawing dead!


RAÚL VALLEJO

Age: 20

Hometown: Madrid, Spain

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: 10-4-1 at GP Bologna 2017, and Top 8 at the MKM Series Madrid 2016.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Burn. The format is very open, so I decided to play what I feel more confident with.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? It will change the configuration, but not so much.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Game 2 on the draw against Eldrazi Taxes, I kept two Searing Blaze, Searing Blood, Grim Lavamancer, Path to Exile, and two lands. I won the match with Searing Blaze and Searing Blood still left in hand!


ARTHUR BROCSKO

Age: 18

Hometown: Mons, Belgium

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 1

Previous Magic accomplishments: I taught my friend not to forget to pay his Pacts. But besides that, nothing really.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Mardu Pyromancer because I think it has no really bad matchup besides big mana decks, and those weren't represented that much.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? It won't be the best midrange deck in the field anymore since I think Jund will replace it and Jace will weaken your control matchup.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Defeating Tron after grinding out all game long, having my board destroyed by a Walking Ballista twice, and killing two Karn Liberated with tokens after he cast both of them under Blood Moon.


JULIEN HENRY

Age: 24

Hometown: Paris, France

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: Finals of GP Manchester 2016.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Lantern because I like when fun is a zero-sum game.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I will most likely switch to a deck playing Jace.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? By being very lucky, I beat a Hostage Taker that was returned multiple times by Liliana, the Last Hope.


DAVIDE CAPPIELLO

Age: 23

Hometown: Turin, Italy

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: Winning some PPTQs, making Day 2 at some GPs, and winning the Sunday PTQ for Pro Tour Dominaria at GP Madrid 2017.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Mono-Green Tron. Big stuff and Karn is better than Jace.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? No changes.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? In my last game at 7-0, I got land denied, but the top of my deck was on fire!


MALTE SMITS

Age: 23

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Occupation: Student

Number of byes: 0

Previous Magic accomplishments: FNM Champion, and a previous Day 2 at a GP.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Titan Breach. Through the Breach allows you to race the fast decks, and the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle engine can grind against anything.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I will still play it. Jace just dies to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and Bloodbraid Elf is just another beater.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? Against Grishoalbrand, I surprised my opponent with Simian Spirit Guide to sacrifice Relic of Progenitus in response to Goryo's Vengeance. Twice.


MÁRCIO CARVALHO

Age: 32

Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

Occupation: Bernardo babysitter

Number of byes: 3

Previous Magic accomplishments: Three PT Top 8s, fifteen GP Top 8s, Top 4 at a MOCS, Finalist at the 2016 World Championship. [Editor's note: Carvalho is also currently 20th in the Top 25 rankings.]

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Abzan. I didn't like anything, and Abzan is my pet deck with interactive matches.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? Abzan won't change, but if you want midrange, it will be better to play Bloodbraid Elf.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? My opponent had Walking Ballista with four +1/+1 counters and 2 damage after blocking Dark Confidant. I had 4 life and my opponent tried to kill me, but couldn't. My opponent lost Walking Ballista and the game because of it. [Editor's note: After the first two activations, Walking Ballista indeed dies as a state-based action before its controller would receive priority to activate again.]


VJERAN HORVAT

Age: 31

Hometown: Cakovel, Croatia

Occupation: IT

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: First place at Grand Prix Prague 2014.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? W/U Control because Geist of Saint Traft isn't good enough in the current meta.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? I'll probably play something different, with Jace obviously. Welcome home, Jace!

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? In Round 7 against Burn, it went to three games and all were decided on his last draw. In Game 1 he topdecked a burn spell; in the other two he didn't.


MEHDI CHELIL

Age: 30

Hometown: Lyon, France

Occupation: Student (Physiotherapy)

Number of byes: 1

Previous Magic accomplishments: 2004 Regional Champion (long time ago), Top 8 of an RPTQ.

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Burn. Yesterday I played Hollow One at a side event, but the discard-at-random is not for me.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? Nothing, Jace is my brother :)

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? The match for the 8-0, I didn't even know what the deck of my opponent was. What the heck! [Editor's note: It was Jeskai Ascendancy combo, a relatively obscure Modern deck with lots of unusual cards.]


MATIC PENKO

Age: 31

Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Occupation: Professional slacker

Number of byes: 2

Previous Magic accomplishments: When Robin Dolar started to play Magic, for a short period of time I was better than him :)

What Modern deck did you play this weekend, and why did you choose it? Tron. I was hoping Lantern Control would be popular because it won the Pro Tour. And obviously Tron is my favorite Modern deck.

How will your deck change after Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf become legal? If Jace Control will become popular and will play four Spreading Seas and four Field of Ruin, then that will be a problem.

What was the most exciting/close/cool game you played today? What happened? In Round 6, my opponent on Jeskai Control tried to exile my tapped World Breaker with Nahiri, the Harbinger. I wanted to kill it with both my main deck creature removal instants, but he didn't let me kill my own guy and countered my second removal spell :(


Tomorrow's livestream will begin at 9 a.m. local time (i.e., 3 a.m. ET or midnight PT). We've already selected some of the sweetest decks in the room, so expect crazy cards like Soulflayer or Glimpse the Unthinkable to be in the feature match area early on!

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