While bitingly cold winds whipped through Secaucus, New Jersey, 1627 players gathered inside the comparatively warm hall to play in Grand Prix New Jersey. On Day 1, nine rounds of Standard whittled those 1627 players down to just 500. Another nine challenging and demanding matches later, just one player emerged victorious.
These are the Top 5 moments from GP New Jersey.
5. Nahiri Ultimates for a . . . Thraben Inspector
In Round 10, Paul Rietzl had chipped away at Peter Maginnis’ life total, leaving Maginnis at just 1. His opponent had, in turn, dealt with each of Rietzl’s creatures. Rietzl had a solitary Nahiri, the Harbinger on his side of the board, the only non-land permanent in play between the two players, ticking up each turn. Finally, Rietzl was able to use Nahiri’s last ability to fetch out a creature.
His choice? A Thraben Inspector. With Maginnis at 1, it was enough to finish him off. If Maginnis had a removal spell for the Inspector, then Rietzl would at least have the clue left over to crack for another card.
Not only did Nahiri ultimate for a 1/2, but that 1/2 was able to lock up the game, and the match, in Rietzl’s favor.
4. Aetherworks Marvel Resurfaces
Aetherworks Marvel has been almost nowhere to be seen since its big finisher, Emrakul, the Promised End, was banned. This weekend, however, Aetherworks Marvel decks began to once again make an appearance, this time with four copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as their heaviest hitter and biggest payoff card for amassing six energy with the mythic artifact in play.
The deck did best in the hands of Jiachen Tao, who built a four-color controlling shell for Aetherworks Marvel and Ulamog. He also included two of another choice artifact of the moment – Dynavolt Tower– to take advantage of the huge number of instants and sorceries his deck cast and energy it produced
3. Meeting the Pros - in the Top 8
Grand Prix are a great place to meet to new players and run into the pros whose articles you read, videos you watch, or careers you follow. Kyle Moran was thrilled to have that opportunity when it came – as he sat down across from Ben Stark in the Top 8 quarterfinals.
As Moran looked over his Top 8 Player Profile, he had a question.
“What if we don’t have any previous Magic accomplishments?" he asked. He decided on “going 5-4 at the last GP." He made the GP New Jersey Top 8 on the same day he made his first GP Day 2.
When Stark took his seat across from Moran for their quarterfinals match, Moran pulled out his playmat and asked Stark to sign it. It was an all-around thrilling weekend for Moran, a high school senior who said he expected to wake up out of a dream at any moment.
2. The Dominican Republic Shows Up in Force
Eleven players made the trip from the Dominican Republic to GP New Jersey. They described their Magic community as one that’s very Standard-focused. They practiced for the GP every day leading up to the tournament, excited to come and represent their country well.
Increasing Dominican representation at GPs was a particular goal of the group, who said that they’ve increased the number of players traveling to GPs from four last year to eleven this year. They’re hoping to reach twenty or twenty-five next year, and to put a player into the Top 8 as well.
1. Baumeister Proves Herding Cats is Possible and Profitable
Corey Baumeister, usually seen in the company of friend, advisor, brother, and cheerleader Brad Nelson, spent weeks testing with 4-Color Copy Cat. His hard work first paid off last weekend, when he made the Top 4 of an RPTQ in Minneapolis, MN. The deck, practice, and play skill that earned him the RPTQ finish last weekend carried him through the Swiss rounds, into the Top 8, and through the finals against Ben Friedman at GP New Jersey.
Today’s win represents an important landmark for Baumeister, who locked up Gold, a goal he’s long been pursuing.
In three surprisingly quick games, Baumesiter leveraged both 4-Color Copy Cat’s midrange value creatures, and the combo that earned it its name. After losing game 1, Baumeister pressured a mana-light Friedman with Tireless Trackers in game 2. Then, in game 3, Baumeister took advantage of Friedman tapping out, and landed the final game-winning combo.
Congratulations to Corey Baumeister, and to all the players at Grand Prix New Jersey this weekend!