Grand Prix Minneapolis Day 1 Highlights

Posted in Event Coverage on July 29, 2018

By Corbin Hosler

More than 1,300 players arrived in Minneapolis this weekend, and the first Core Set in years awaited them – Core Set 2019 has offered a fresh, back-to-basics approach to tournament Magic that has been a fun ride for veterans and newer players alike. Here are the moments that stood out from Day 1 of the tournament.

Breaking Down Core Set 2019

Sealed Deck was the format for nine rounds of play today, and about 300 of the more than 1,300 who came to the Twin Cities to compete advanced to Day 2, where we'll have a pair of drafts to lead us to the Top 8.

Sealed is always an interesting format that varies from set to set and plays out quite differently than Draft despite using the same card pool. In Minneapolis, that meant decks that ran the gamut from one end to the other, with the slowest blue-black decks to the fastest white-red decks packed to the gills with Viashino Pyromancer. Our first glimpse into what would find success came in the trial-winning decklists from Friday, when hundreds of players tried their hand with Sealed to earn byes for the tournament.

Here’s how the undefeated decks broke down:

White-Black 7
Green-White 6
Blue-Black 5
Green-Blue 5
Black-Red 3
White-Blue 3
White-Red 3
Black-Green 3
Blue-Red 1

While there was plenty of balance among the winning archetypes (except for red-green), it seems clear that white stood out amongst the colors – or at least represented a higher ceiling for decks. Finding particular success were the white-black builds based around life gain, using cards like Ajani’s Pridemate, Regal Bloodlord and a swarm of accompanying Bats to drain opponents out of the game.

Fueling that engine were cards that might otherwise seem underwhelming, such as Leonin Vanguard, Dwarven Priest and even Revitalize and Fountain of Renewal. While some of those may not seem impressive, they are more than enough to get the job done in combination with the bombs in the color combination.

Green-white decks have their own hook – enchantments. Sure, it makes sense that players might play the bomby Prodigious Growth or the always-solid Knightly Valor, but the handful of cards in the color pair that benefit from enchantments – headlined by Satyr Enchanter, Novice Knight and Druid of Horns – mean that cards like Oakenform, Talons of Wildwood and Knight’s Pledge are more playable in Core Set 2019 Limited than they would be in other formats.

It probably doesn’t hurt that white also gets two all-around tentpole cards in Angel of the Dawn and Star-Crowned Stag, either.

Getting Creative

Creativity comes in many forms. Take, for instance, Rich Hagon: his Saturday morning antics have transformed the beginning rounds of Grand Prix – and delighted Twitch chat to no end.

He didn’t disappoint today.

But there are plenty of ways to find success being creative, as undefeated competitor Quinn Kotecki proved. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see that he included, the Strategist in his deck – after all, 3/5 flying, vigilant creatures are worth stretching your mana base for.

But what comes as a much bigger surprise are the cards he played alongside the “Defender lord." Suspicious Bookcase has proven to be a reliable card in decks – and the synergy with Arcades is a nice bonus – but Kotecki went a step further and included a pair of Wall of Vines.

“I didn’t like my pool much, so I just went for it – and I only lost two games all day," he said, unable to hold back a grin.

Sights and Sounds of the Grand Prix

It’s said often, but Grand Prix are something unique to everyone who attends – and for many it’s about more than just the main event. And there was little this weekend to top this.

The incredible Shalai, Voice of Plenty cosplay by @Nissacosplay lit up the room, with fully extendable and retractable winds controlled by her blade.

Of course, some attendees just really wanted to play Commander.

What Makes an Undefeated Deck?

Six players finished with unblemished 9-0 records the end of Saturday, and we had some idea what their decks might look like based on the Trial decklists.

At least, we thought we did. Instead, of the six undefeated players, two of them – Rob Pisano and Riku Kumagai – accomplished the feat with blue-red decks, one of the lowest finishers in Friday’s trials. Alex Sittner won out with green-white (Vivien Reid the all-star), Craig Wescoe played white-red (Angel of the Dawn the MVP), Ken Yukuhiro leaned on Sleep to win out with green-blue, while Quinn Kotecki finished 9-0 with his aforementioned Arcades deck.

These six players will start Sunday in pole position, with two drafts standing between them and the Top 8 – and you can watch all the action live at

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