When we entered Grand Prix Montreal — one of three Grand Prix events this weekend — we knew a few things would be on the line across the world. Some of those things have already been decided, most notably Brian Braun-Duin's victory in the race for the title of Grand Prix Master. He secured his spot at the World Championship by putting up a strong finish and barely holding off top-ranked Seth Manfield, who lost in the semifinals of Grand Prix Sydney.
Here in Montreal things are still unfolding. Four players — Felix Tse, Philippe Gareau, John Severin and Jamie Madill — entered Sunday's draft rounds undefeated, and plenty of strong players lurked just behind them.
The moon may have risen on Sydney, but things are stilling lighting up on this side of the pond. Hall of Fame hopeful and Limited master Rich Hoaen enters Day 2 and 8-1, and is seeking just one more Pro Point to reach Silver this season. Renowned for his drafting skill, a strong Sunday could see him advance even further, though he won't be attending the Pro Tour next week thanks to it overlapping with his own wedding.
Rich Hoaen entered Day 2 at 8-1, looking for just one pro point to lock up Silver.
Other players also had plenty on the line. Alex Majlation entered the tournament eight points short of reaching Gold. Andrew Tenjum was two points short of Silver, while Paul Dean was eight points short of Platinum, a level he could reach this weekend with a title — though realistically he would need five points to guarantee he reach Platinum at next week's Pro Tour. The field of pros may be smaller in Montreal, but it's no less dramatic than anywhere else this weekend.
All the player races are set against the backdrop of Eldritch Moon, Magic's newest set making its premier play debut this weekend.
While Shadows Over Innistrad brought us mechanics like Investigate, double-faced cards and more, Eldritch Moon adds its own spin with Emerge and Meld cards. Meld in particular has been a joy to see in practice, as it breaks one of Magic's longest-held rules. No longer is a creature just one creature, and the power of Brisela, Voice of Nightmares has been spotted in the room today. The threat of a meld pair adds a new twist on today's booster drafts, and it remains to be seen just how players utilize the new format.
All of this is setting up six rounds of Magic that will lead us to the Top 8, where one more draft will decide the winner of Grand Prix Montreal. It's a wild, Eldrazi-filled ride, and there's one thing we know for sure.
It's going to be a fun one.