All Roads Lead to Mexico

Posted in Event Coverage on January 31, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Nearly 800 players showed up to compete at Grand Prix Mexico City. And while all of them were excited to get their hands on Oath of the Gatewatch and battle for the Grand Prix trophy, Mexico City represented much more than just a single tournament to many of those participants.

Which might explain why — on a weekend with two other Grand Prix, in Nagoya and Vancouver to choose from — six of the world’s top 25 players, along with three members of the Magic Hall of Fame, arrived in Mexico’s capital city this weekend.

For the members of Team EUreka, it was an opportunity to gather for a week away from home to prepare for next week’s Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. For the members of Team Dex Army, it was a chance to defend their home region. For Pascal Maynard, it was a chance to defend last year’s victory in this city. For longtime pillar of the game Chris Pikula, it was an opportunity to get back onto the Pro Tour. For the dozens of pros who came to Mexico City, it was an important stop on the way to the Pro Tour. For the hundreds of local players who turned up for Mexico’s largest-ever event, it was opportunity to meet — and beat — the players they’re used to only seeing in coverage.

Safe to say, there’s something for everyone at Grand Prix Mexico City.

Some of the biggest names at this tournament — including 8th-ranked Martin Muller, 17th-ranked Fabrizio Anteri and No. 23 Joel Larsson, not to mention Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir winner Martin Dang and hall of famer Olle Rade — belong to Team EUreka. Preparing to compete in their fourth Pro Tour as a team, the group of European superstars, almost the entire team arrived in Mexico City a week ago to begin preparation for the Pro Tour. They’ve spent the last week doing almost nothing but sampling the local food and drafting Oath of the Gatewatch nonstop. The team plans to stay in Mexico City after the Grand Prix to wrap up their testing before jetting off to the Pro Tour.

They’re far from the only team that decided to make Mexico City their pit stop on the way to Atlanta. Led by hall of famer Willy Edel, Team Dex Army — composed largely of Latin American players battling close to home in Mexico City, at least compared to the Europeans — has a strong contingent at the event.

If the Europeans traveled a long way, the members of Team MTG Mint Card traveled, literally, half a world away. Led by 18th-ranked Lee Shi Tian and Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir Top 8 competitor Jason Chung, the group decided to forgo the closer trip to Nagoya to acclimate themselves to the region in which they’ll battle in next week’s Pro Tour. Temper the jet lag and play a Grand Prix all in one? Sold.

18th-ranked Lee Shi Tian and most of Team MTG Mint Card decided to head to Mexico City ahead of next week’s Pro Tour.

While the teams are a huge part of Mexico City’s narrative, they aren’t the only part of the story. Pascal Maynard was back in Mexico to try and defend his title from a year ago, while several other individuals are here with some personal goals. That includes Chris Pikula — looking for a deep run to earn another shot at the Pro Tour — as well as No. 23 Craig Wescoe, battling without the rest of Team Ultra Pro but looking for his third Grand Prix Top 8 in as many months.

Pascal Maynard opted for Mexico City rather than the much-closer Vancouver to try and defend his Grand Prix title there.

With so many of the game’s top players in town for the event, the Grand Prix looks quite a bit like next week’s Pro Tour will look. Luckily for us, that means a lot of great Magic.

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