The Undefeated of Grand Prix Milwaukee

Posted in Event Coverage on December 10, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

It may have started snowing outside, but things were heating up in the Wisconsin Center as players entered Round 9 of Grand Prix Milwaukee. The final round of the day, nine players entered undefeated. The winners would walk away with an unblemished record and in pole position for a run at the Top 8.

Five intense matches later, we had the final five.

Matt Severa may not quite be a hometown hero, but Madison isn't that far from Milwaukee, really. With a record-tying three Grand Prix trophies in 2016, Severa is in great position after a 9-0 Day 1 to better the record he shares with Olivier Ruel.

Severa squared off against another Madisonian in Edward Song, and in the battle of Wisconsin friends he ultimately kept the four-trophies dream alive with a quick victory.

Joe Angelo is no stranger to Grand Prix — he plays in a handful of events a year within driving distance — but he's never had a Grand Prix quite like this.

Initially skeptical of a deck that came up a few cards short, Angelo knew he could lean on a few cards to try to pull him through, namely Saheeli's Artistry and Torrential Gearhulk. And while he may not have loved every card in his deck when the tournament started, he felt a little differently after defeating David Phelps to finish the day undefeated.

“This is my best start to a Grand Prix by far,” explained Angelo, who is seeking a return to the Pro Tour after playing in one in 2005. “I've never Top 8'ed or anything, but I'm only four wins from punching my ticket back to the Pro Tour.

It's been a long road to the ranks of the undefeated for Kanegawa, who came to Milwaukee by way of Los Angeles, which was just his first stop stateside. Home for Kanegawa is Japan, and his weeklong visit to the United States culminated in Grand Prix Milwaukee, which so far is providing the perfect ending to his trip.

“Today was a good day,” the Japanese pro said simply after dispatching Xinyu Fei in a tight Game 3.

Hailing from the Chicago area, it was a short drive to Milwaukee for Steven Carter, who has made the most of the trip so far. Leaning on a deck with just Key to the City and Cultivator of Blades as his rares, it was strong play and a good run that took him the land of the 9-0 after knocking off Tom Sitdamlong in the last round.

While he's had a few deep runs at Grind Prix, none have started off so promising for the Aurora, Illinois native.

“The best I've done before is 12-3, so hopefully I can do better than that,” he said shortly after finishing the day unbeaten.

Rounding out the five 9-0 players was Tyler Hill. Hill entered the final round paired up with Walter Egli, and the pair played a hard-fought match that left Hill atop the heap.

Not that it was easy to get there. The toughest test for Hill came in Round 8, when he faced off against No. 13 Sam Pardee. With no hesitation even against the Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Top 8 competitor. With that win behind him, he closed out the final round with another victory to head into Day 2 as the top seed in the standings.

Joe Angelo's White-Blue-red – GP Milwaukee, 9-0

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Matt Severa's Black-Red – GP Milwaukee, 9-0

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Tyler Hill's Black-Green-red – GP Milwaukee, 9-0

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Toshiya Kanegawa's Red-White – GP Milwaukee, 9-0

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Steven Carter's Black-Green-red – GP Milwaukee, 9-0

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