Nearly 1,400 players arrived in Oklahoma City this weekend, and what awaited them was a format that has changed greatly even since its last Grand Prix level appearance in August. Modern is oft cited as Magic's most diverse format, and it certainly lived up to that billing in the nation’s heartland.
These are the highlights that stood out to us from Day One here in Oklahoma City.
The Field is Wide Open
Every tournament begins with a few things known. There will be a room full of players who come with the dream of advancing to the Top 8. And there will be a dozen or so players who arrive expecting to make the Top 8. This dichotomy is the beauty of the Grand Prix circuit, where anyone at any time could be paired up against a pro they watched on Twitch at the Pro Tour just a few weeks ago.
There was some of that at Oklahoma City, of course – Seth Manfield, Sam Black, Sam Pardee and Eric Froehlich, among others, were in attendance – but thanks to a spate of travel mishaps this tournament would not be the typical affair.
My flight to OKC was cancelled. Been on hold almost 2 hours to get a new flight. There's a reasonable chance that I'll miss the GP, and instead be forced to spend an enjoyable weekend at home.— Brian Braun-Duin (@BraunDuinIt) December 8, 2017
Weather will disrupt the best-laid travel plans – and in this case, it translates to a wide-open field in Oklahoma City.
The Field Isn’t the Only Thing Wide Open – So is the Format
One of the most attractive parts of Modern for many players is just how many decks are viable in the format. With even more innovation coming in the last few months and weeks – and even days – the format is undergoing a constant evolution that keeps players guessing and viewers excited to see the latest brew doing well.
Just last week Lantern Control – a breakout deck a few years ago – surged back onto the scene after some time out of the spotlight, all thanks to Whir of Invention, which Sam Black piloted to a finals appearance at the StarCityGames.com Invitational.
He was running it back with the deck in Oklahoma City, and you better believe that the player to first light the Lantern all the way back at Grand Prix Charlotte in 2015 is back on the deck he won Grand Prix Oklahoma City with two years ago.
Zac Elsik is back on Lantern Control in Oklahoma City, the deck he rode all the way to victory here two years ago.
“Whir of Invention completely changes the deck," he explained. “Now you have access to whatever you need out of your deck when you need it."
But that’s the not the only deck making new waves in Modern.
The Five-Color Human deck has jumped into the scene recently thanks to the addition of Kitesail Freebooter in Ixalan along with the critical mass of Humans now in Modern. With huge starts fueled by Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant, the deck can get out of the gates fast while still disrupting opponents with Freebooter, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Meddling Mage.
The list goes on and on – and sometimes it even includes Ruric Thar, the Unbowed.
New decks make up a large part of the Modern format. Constant changes and new additions keep the format fresh, interesting and rarely stale. But on the other end of the spectrum is the other beloved part about Modern – decks are viable almost indefinitely. That leads many players to put plenty of love into their 75, from finding just the right basic to tinkering with the ideal configurations – and playing with the best parts of the Masterpiece Series.
Dana Makes a Run
Dana Fischer is on a quest – to become the youngest player to ever advance to Day Two of a Grand Prix.
Fischer broke into the hearts of Magic players six months ago when she first began making the Grand Prix rounds, and she’s been a staple of the scene ever since. While she didn’t advance to Day Two in Oklahoma City – she just missed the cut by finishing with a 5-2 record – both her and her opponents throughout the day thoroughly enjoyed the tournament.
(Adam) Dana lost her last match and is out of Day 2 (at 4-4) but her opponent Shelby was really nice and we hope she makes her first Day 2! pic.twitter.com/gJU5LLYP9n— Dana Fischer the Magic Planeswalker (@DanaFischerMTG) December 10, 2017
Five Lead the Way in OKC
Zac Elsik did it again. For the second Grand Prix Oklahoma City in a row, the Lantern Control mastermind took on all comers and walked away unbeaten. Will he make it a full repeat of two years ago when he walked away with the title on the back of Lantern Control?
Only Sunday competition will answer that question, but he will face plenty of competition. He’s joined at the top by four other players – Joshua Hoffeld, Patrick Tierney, Julian John and Nathanael Perigo – who all enter Day Two in pole position with a great shot advancing to the Top 8 and playing for the trophy!
We asked the five undefeated players some questions, and here’s what the leaders of the Grand Prix Oklahoma field had to say for themselves after their impressive Day One runs.
Name: Patrick Tierney
Hometown: Seattle, WA
What deck did you play and why? Jeskai Control. Path to Exile is amazing right now.
What is your gameplan for Sunday? Take each match one at a time and play great games of Magic.
Name: Nathanael Perigo
Hometown: Enid, Oklahoma/Omaha, Nebraska
What deck did you play and why? Affinity. It’s my first time playing a meta deck – I might as well choose the hardest.
What is your gameplan for Sunday? DON’T SUCK!
Name: Joshua Hoffeld
Hometown: Baytown, TX
What deck did you play and why? Abzan. Was doing to play Valakut, but decided I needed to 13-2 to joins friends at the Pro Tour.
What was the coolest play you made today? Turn 2 fetch, shock, and do nothing.
What is your gameplan for Sunday? 13-2.
Name: Zac Elsik
Hometown: Dallas, Tx
What deck did you play and why? Lantern Control. It’s the best deck in Modern.
What was the coolest play you made today? I ultimated Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas for 24 life against Jund.
What is your gameplan for Sunday? Just win them all!
Name: Julian John
Hometown: Orlando, FL
What deck did you play and why? Mono-Green Tron because my friends convinced me that I should play it over Death’s Shadow.
What was the coolest play you made today? Naturally hard-casting Ulamog back-to-back.
What is your gameplan for Sunday? To be well-rested and to give it my all.
Congrats to the five undefeated players at Grand Prix Oklahoma City!