Day 1 Highlights of Grand Prix Madrid 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on March 10, 2018

By Craig Jones

One of the things I did not expect from Grand Prix Madrid was torrential rain. As a Brit we're used to being drowned by the weather at home, not in "sunny” Spain. It must be a Magic in Spain thing. Or maybe a Craig Jones at a Magic tournament in Spain thing. I’m old and grizzled enough to remember the infamous 2007 Pro Tour in Valencia, where Day 1 was washed out—literally—thanks to flooding at the venue.

Grand Prix Madrid was played in Hall 14 of Feria de Madrid, where players could escape the elements for a weekend of hard-fought Magic. In total we had 1062 players. Or more accurately, 354 teams, as the format for the weekend was Team Trios.


Team Trios is a relatively new addition to the Grand Prix circuit (having made its debut at Grand Prix Santa Clara earlier this year). It is a Team Constructed format where each member of a three-person team plays a different format—Standard, Modern, or Legacy. Unlike other Team Constructed formats there are no additional constraints on deck construction. Players don’t have to juggle their deck lists to prevent overlaps. This means the decks we saw this weekend are indicative of the decks you’d expect to see at a typical Standard, Modern or Legacy tournament. On one hand this takes away some of the uniqueness of the Team Constructed format—where deck construction is often a meta-puzzle of trying to find the three best decks that fit together, rather than the three best decks overall—but on the other it provides a wonderful snapshot of what’s going on across all three constructed formats on the same weekend.

And of course, it’s still a team format. Teammates are free to help each other out and offer advice on how to best navigate tricky board states, despite playing different formats. It’s these team interactions that define and make the team format so much fun.


Back at the time of Grand Prix Santa Clara, Standard was not a particularly exciting format. Temur Energy and 4-color variants that were essentially Temur Energy splashing black for the Scarab God had a vise-like grip on the metagame. The energy decks were so dominant they constituted all four of the Standard decks in the Top 4 of Grand Prix Santa Clara. Most of the coverage focus was on Modern and Legacy while the Standard players were left to slug it out unseen with endless Energy mirrors.

Since then there have been changes. Oh yes, there have been changes.

Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner were sent to the naughty step with a ban from the Standard format (along with Rampaging Ferocidon and Ramunap Ruins) in order to give the other decks a chance to breathe. The Rivals of Ixalan set came out and added some potent new cards to the mix. Now Standard looks a lot healthier, with a wider variety of viable decks.

Energy hasn’t gone away, although it’s now dropped to being a useful part of some decks rather than their sole focus. One of the first archetypes to emerge was Grixis Energy. This ditched the green, kept the Harnessed Lightnings and Whirler Virtuosos, and added Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.

As the Standard meta evolved, decks started dropping the red and straight blue-black, either midrange or control, started to emerge as the new top dog. We certainly noticed the increased frequency of blue-black midrange decks on the top tables as the day progress.

Meet your new energy overlord...?

And... shock horror... The Scarab God is still a very good Magic card.


Blue-Black Midrange as Played by Mystery Player #1

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While Standard has had some recent bannings to knock some diversity into it, the Modern format has seen some very high profile unbannings.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor, arguably the most powerful planeswalker card ever printed, and maybe even one of the most powerful Magic cards ever printed, was recently taken off the banned list.

Modern blue mages everywhere rejoiced. They added Jace to their decks and crushed the Modern format under their boots for ever more.

Well, not exactly... Guess who else is back.

Bloodbraid Elf was also taken off the banned list and there’s nothing the angry bloodbraid elf clan likes better than bashing Jace off the battlefield. Jund is back and was a popular choice among the higher profile teams.

Jund as Played by Mystery Player #2

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While Boggles very much had Jund’s number at the recent MOCS, I didn’t see much of it here this weekend. What I did see was a lot of Tron lands. Karn and friends are still a potent force on the Modern stage.


Jace might not have made as much of a splash in Modern as some people were hoping (and others fearing), but he’s been a staple in various Legacy blue decks for a while. Overall, Legacy has proven as diverse as ever. My colleague Tobi Henke kept track of the various decks appearing in the feature match area (which is a reasonable, back-of-the-envelope gauge of decks doing well, until we can properly crunch the Day 2 deck lists tomorrow). Legacy had a very long list with no deck archetype being represented more than three times.

One of the decks showing up three times was Miracles.

Miracles as Played by Mystery Player #3

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For a long long time Miracles, a white-blue control deck, was the supreme boogeyman of Legacy. Thanks to the removal of Sensei's Divining Top, the deck is not as potent as it once was, but it’s still a strong deck and makes good use of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to draw cards, control the board and then ultimately end the game.


One of the great things about team events is seeing the teams that go that extra mile and come to the event in matching gear.

Team Axion Now, with their distinctive yellow and purple tops, have been a distinctive part of the UK magic scene for a few years now. They came to Grand Prix Madrid in force, with fully five teams donning the yellow and purple.

There’s an old truism in Magic, that you can travel hundreds of miles to a big event only to get paired against the person you shared a car with in Round 1. So obviously two Axion teams were paired against each other in the first round. The team of Kayure Patel (winner, Grand Prix Bologna 2016), and George and Henry Channing faced off and emerged victorious versus João Choça, Tom Law and James Allingham. Patel and the Channings cemented their role of chief Axion predator by defeating Niels Molle’s team in Round 5.

Kayure Patel, Henry and George Channing

This set of shirts was a distinctive sight on the top tables towards the back straight of Day 1.

They belonged to the Spanish team of Iñigo Vallejo, Pedro Lechado, and Miguel Castro, who are content creators with Show & Tell. They have a website, do various bits of streaming, and have also provided coverage of some of the recent Spanish RPTQs.

Iñigo Vallejo, Pedro Lechado, and Miguel Castro

They also had a very good Day 1. As of the time I’m writing this, it’s the last round of Day 1 and Lechado-Castro-Vallejo are one of five teams left undefeated, and indeed they went on to finish the day unbeaten with a 7-0-1 record.

We’ll be seeing a lot more of those eyeball tops on Day 2.

So there you go, if you want to do well at a team Grand Prix, come with snazzy matching kit.

No dragon onesies did make me a little sad, though. If only everyone could be as glorious as the Welsh.


This is also another big truism of Magic—you’re not eliminated until you’re actually eliminated. The star team of Andrea Mengucci, Christian Calcano and Javier Dominguez proved this on Day 1 of Grand Prix Madrid.

After a rocky 1-2 start they found themselves in a position of needing to win out every single match to stay in the tournament. So, five straight wins just to stay alive in the tournament and progress to Day 2. It came down to a nailbiter in the final round feature match. Dominguez had won his match while Calcano had gone down 2-0 in a brain-melter of a Jund mirror. This left everything to the deciding game of Mengucci’s match versus Marc Pages’ Bant Approach deck. The Italian player pulled out a squeaker of a win to keep his team’s hopes alive. They will be returning tomorrow to try and navigate six more must-win games to give them hope of reaching the Top 4.

Javier Dominguez, Andrea Mengucci, and Christian Calcano happy to recover from a shaky 1-2 start to win into Day 2.

I caught up to them afterwards and asked how the team came about.

All three are on the same Pro Tour team (Connected Company). Mengucci told me they’re also planning to play together in the Team Constructed Pro Tour later this year, so this weekend represented a good opportunity to get some practice in.

For these Team Trios events I’m always curious to know how these teams decide who is playing what.

Mengucci – “I love Legacy, but I also recognize Javier is better than me. So we felt it was best for him to play it."

Dominguez, when asked how much Legacy he played – “Not much, but Legacy is my favorite format. I’ve been putting a lot of hours in recently."

But what about Calcano?

Mengucci – “Calc was the last one, so he didn’t have any choice."

Calcano – “We decided. I hate Modern slightly less than Andrea."

Calcano lost the last two rounds, but the great thing about the team tournament structure is even if you lose, your teammates can still rescue the match result.

Calcano – “Every round I lost, they won."


The 8-0 teams of Grand Prix Madrid


No team finished with a perfect 8-0 record. However, there were three teams that finished undefeated on 7-0-1 records.


First up we have a trio of experienced Danes.

Michael Bonde, Andreas Petersen, Thomas Enevoldsen

The biggest surprise here is that Thomas Enevoldsen, known as a Legacy Death and Taxes master, has switched his Plains for dual lands.

Name: Thomas Enevoldsen

Age: 30

Occupation: Lawyer

Hometown: Copenhagen

Country: Denmark

Previous Magic accomplishments:

WMC Winner

GP Strasbourg 2013 winner

GP Lyon 2017 winner

GP Prague 2016 Top 4

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Legacy. My teammates trusted in me to learn a new deck once I finally figured out that mono-white is in too much trouble because of hateful cards that Wizards printed.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Playing 4c Control against the deck’s creator, Tomas Mar, was very cool.

Name: Michael Bonde

Age: 31

Occupation: Teacher

Hometown: Aarhus V

Country: Denmark

Previous Magic accomplishments:

GP Lyon winner and 2x Top 4

17th PT Rivals of Ixalan

17th PT Shadows over Innistrad

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Standard. I play with two of my best friends and they are luckily insane at both Modern and Legacy.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Playing U/B gives you many rounds and many decisions. I can’t recall a single episode, but Standard is great!

Name: Andreas Petersen

Age: 29

Occupation: Daddy by day, Commander by night

Hometown: Copenhagen

Country: Denmark

Previous Magic accomplishments:

Timing out in MOCS finals in 2105 with lethal Valakut triggers on the stack. Still hurts

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Modern. My teammates trust me a lot in that format. I didn’t fail them and 8-0’d today.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Last game of today I needed all of my remaining Valakuts and Mountains to beat Ulamog.


Our second undefeated team is a trio of Germans with some very spicy Legacy tech. I’m not giving away anything here, but you might want to watch Linden’s games on stream on Day 2.

Elias Klocker, Florian Koch, Carsten Linden

Name: Carsten Linden

Age: 26

Occupation: Teacher/Student

Hometown: Aachen

Country: Germany

Previous Magic accomplishments:

PT Theros Top 25

Some GP Top 16s

Member of the insane team Kanalreiniger

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Legacy, because I’ve grinded it my whole life.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Our standard player had the nicest, closest games.

Name: Florian Koch

Age: 36

Occupation: Writer for ChannelFireball/Gamer

Hometown: Aachen

Country: Germany

Previous Magic accomplishments:

Winning GP Lyon 2010 + 3 further GP Top 8s

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Carsten is the best Legacy player and broke the format. Elias wanted to play Standard and I love Modern, so it was an easy choice.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Most games were rather lopsided, but watching Elias play Standard was a lot of fun.

Name: Elias Klocker

Age: 24

Occupation: MtG Trader

Hometown: Schwarzach

Country: Austria

Previous Magic accomplishments:

2 GP Top 8s

Austria National Champion 2017

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Standard. Because Carsten broke Legacy and I don’t like Modern.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Nothing special happened.


And finally, the eyeball shirts of Show & Tell I talked to at the end of Round 6 managed to rattle off two more wins to round out our trio of undefeated teams.

Iñigo Vallejo, Miguel Castro, Pedro Lechado

Name: Miguel Castro

Age: 24

Occupation: Student

Hometown: Madrid

Country: Spain

Previous Magic accomplishments:

GP Barcelona 2017 Top 8

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Modern. Cause I have a lot of experience with the format and the kind of deck I’m playing. Also, Pedro is the Standard master and Iñigo wanted to play Legacy, so I got the leftovers.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

I won against Devoted Company by naming Noble Hierarch with Phyrexian Revoker and mana-screwing him.

Name: Iñigo Vallejo Pascual

Age: 25

Occupation: Personal Trainer

Hometown: Bilbao

Country: Spain

Previous Magic accomplishments:

Top 4 Grand Prix Madrid 2017

Top 32 Grand Prix Sevilla 2015

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

I’m playing Legacy. I was the most experienced player of the team in this format.

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

I played a really exciting game in last round versus Storm where we grinded each other out and I finished winning in turns. It was also the last match of the round. Too much adrenaline.

Name: Pedro Lechado Antigues

Age: 27

Occupation: Social Worker

Hometown: Manacor

Country: Spain

Previous Magic accomplishments:

Playing the WMC last year and two PT Day 2s

Which format are you playing and why were you chosen for that seat:

Standard, because it’s the format that I have better results and know more. I played in the last sets a lot of high level tournaments. Standard is Great!!

Which was the most exciting/cool/close game you played today? What happened?

Top-decking a Scarab God against Grixis when we were with no cards in hand and he was killing me with Whirler Virtuoso.

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