Those at home might not know this, but first-ranked World Champion Seth Manfield had not played a game with this deck of his own design before the Grand Prix. At 1 a.m. Friday morning, he brewed up this brutal anti-midrange, anti-aggro, frankly anti-Rite build and submitted it without further consultation, preparation, or practice.
He had brute-forced through the quarters and semis, and he was looking to make that top ranking a number one, with a bullet.
His opponent, Louis-Samuel Deltour, was a French player with three Grand Prix Top 8s under his belt, going back to 2011. He had recently become friends with Team East West Bowl, and had even worn their sweatshirt in solidarity at various points in the Top 8 (until the spectating Pascal Maynard got cold, I presume). He had been the most exuberant person throughout the entire Top 8. He narrowly made it on breakers, and was loving every minute of it.
Just like Scott Lipp before in him the semifinals, Deltour had an uphill battle this match. With endless spot and mass removal, along with main-deck Hallowed Moonlight, there seemed slim hope for Deltour. However, just like the marquee card, Collected Company, Deltour might feign looking down and out, then kill you out of nowhere.
In the first game, looking a bit like Manfield’s semifinals match, the World Champ kept any creature he was afraid of off the board. He slowly and calmly added lands and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to the battlefield, with little fear of reprisal. He moved through the game, completely unimpeded and unencumbered.
Deltour was scratching and clawing to very little gain. Gideon started turning sideways, and quickly took Deltour into single digits. This game was looking a bit lopsided.
Though it really could have been any finisher that would’ve made Deltour pick up his cards for the next game, Manfield’s card of choice was a simple Planar Outburst. Gideon stuck around through the cleansing and blithely attacked for the win.
In the second game, Deltour made a raspberry sound to his first hand, then a squeaking sound to his second. Despite the squeak, he kept it. It was five lands and Collected Company.
He sighed heavily as the game started...and as it went on. Deltour couldn’t put any pressure on Manfield, allowing him to develop his board and draw cards at will, just like last game. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet from Manfield was unquestioned, and made a strong impression on the board.
“Oh man,” Deltour said out loud to himself, lamenting his position, searching for something to grasp onto.
But during all this lamentation, Deltour was amassing something of a board. Manfield’s deck, without a couple key cards, could be glacially slow, and Deltour was finding the time he was given useful. With Deltour’s head resting on his hand, he tried to surmount the seemingly insurmountable. In the meantime, Manfield was gaining more and more Zombie tokens.
But though Deltour was trying to break out of his prison and was just inching through the final drainpipe, someone yanked him from the pipe and threw him in an oubliette. That someone was Sorin, Grim Nemesis.
Deltour sank back into his chair. More Zombies, more cards. More death, more killing. Deltour couldn’t take it anymore. “So many cards... he said. “How long, man?”
It was long, man. Real long. Manfield took his time. He wasn’t going to miss a step; he wasn’t going to let an errant Collected Company “get” him.
After many more turns, Manfield had positioned himself well enough to safely make Ormendahl, Profane Prince, and smashed Deltour in the face with a giant Demon to win the Grand Prix in style.
World Champ Seth Manfield has bulleted that number one ranking. He’s on top of the mountain, and he isn’t going anywhere.