It was a wild weekend here, as even in sunny Canada an Eldritch Moon loomed. Players got their hands on Magic's newest set and left us with a memorable Montreal experience. Here are the five moments that stood out to us from the Grand Prix.
5. Eldritch Moon arrives
We begin where all things must, with Emrakul. The promised end has invaded Innistrad and now the rest of the Magic universe, as players got their hands on the set at the Grand Prix level for the first time. Nine rounds of Sealed Deck play and Saturday and six more rounds of Draft on Sunday left us with some early impressions of the format, and it's safe to say Innistrad will never be the same.
From werewolves chomping at the bit in aggressive decks to the Eldrazi slowly emerging in the big-mana decks, Eldritch Moon proved itself to be a format that can go big or small with equal ease, and players found success across all ends of that spectrum. As we head into the Pro Tour next week, the Limited format seems ripe for creativity.
4. Robert Lombardi posts back-to-back Canadian Top 8s in epic fashion
When Robert Lombardi posted his first Top 8 appearance in Toronto earlier this year, it was a heartwarming story of a local making his first Grand Prix Top 8. Now, he's a known and feared player around these parts, and he showed exactly why in Montreal as he made his second Top 8 appearance.
And he did so in the most impressive manner possible. Facing a win-and-in for the Top 8 with his opponent at two life, Lombardi found that his Thermo-Alchemist was just short of finishing off the game. That is, until he found the perfect way to use the cards in his hand; he cast Spontaneous Mutation targeting his Alchemist, only to respond with Turn Aside to untap his Alchemist and deal the final point of damage needed to secure a berth in the Top 8.
3. The Undefeated hang tough
Four players finished Day 1 with perfect 9-0 records, and three of them converted that into Top 8 appearances. In a time where the margins on Sunday competition are razor-thin it's rare to see so many of Saturday's top performers to translate that into Top 8 success.
That wasn't the case in Montreal, where Philippe Gareau, Felix Tse and Jamie Madill all pulled off the feat, proving their Saturday success was no fluke.
John Severin, Felix Tse, Philippe Gareau and Jamie Madill, the Day 1 undefeated players.
2. Philippe Gareau joins his roommate on the Pro Tour
Philippe Gareau was understandably excited when he made the Top 8 in Montreal and earned a spot on the Pro Tour. But he may not even be the most excited person in his own house about the whole ordeal.
We can't say it better than Maynard (No. 22 in the world) so we won't try.
1.Cochran ends it all with the narrowest of victories
Hunter Cochran found himself up a game in the finals of Grand Prix Montreal, improbably just one win away from a title after squeaking into Day 2 with a 7-2 record. But his finals opponent, Hugo Demers, wasn't about to go down quietly. Demers had stormed through the Top 8 with his aggressive black-red deck and had already shown the ability to steal games from nowhere thanks to a litany of burn and pump spells in conjunction with Uncaged Fury. So when he attacked into Cochran and his precarious life total late in Game 2, things looked dicey for the American.
That's when he pulled off his most impressive line of the Top 8. It began with flashing in Drownyard Behemoth to double-block a Vildin-Pack Outcast, hoping for the blocking blowout. But Demers was ready with Uncaged Fury, and the resulting combat left Cochran on the verge of death.
The topdeck of the weekend was waiting for Cochran, who couldn't play the Tireless Tracker he drew fast enough. As he slowly began to work his way toward victory, Demers peeled one of the best draws left in his deck: Burn From Within.
He counted his lands… and came up just one short. By the narrowest of margins Cochran defeated Demers and was crowned the champion of Grand Prix Montreal!