Coverage of Grand Prix Pittsburgh Day 1

Posted in Event Coverage on March 23, 2013

By Wizards of the Coast


Saturday, 10:50 a.m. – Hell Without a Lid: Pittsburgh's Magic Legacy

by Jacob Van Lunen

This weekend marks the fourth Grand Prix in the Steel City. The first Grand Prix was Mercadian Masques Team Limited all the way back in 2000; The event had a star studded top four including team Antarctica, (Jon Finkel, Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, and Dan O'Mahoney-Schwartz) defending team Pro Tour Champions Your Move Games, (Darwin Kastle, Rob Dougherty, and Dave Humpreys) and, eventual winners, Huey, Ben, and Casey. (William Jensen, Ben Rubin, and Casey McCarrel)

Huey, Ben, and Casey

Team limited came back to Pittsburgh in 2003 with Onslaught block. The finals of this event featured a team of relative unknowns captained by a young Charles Gindy, who would later go on to win a Pro Tour, Nationals, and a Grand Prix. Gindy's squad eventually fell to the feared team Illuminati. (Zvi Mowshowitz, Justin Gary, and Alex Shvartsman)

Team Illuminati

Eight years later the Grand Prix circuit returned to Pittsburgh. Over 1400 players battled with their favorite Standard decks. After the dust settled, Yuuya Watanabe, arguably the greatest player in the world then and now, emerged victorious playing an innovative version of Blue/White Caw Blade despite the recent bannings of Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Yuuya Watanabe

Today, 1626 players have shown up to battle Gatecrash Limited in an effort to be crowned the latest Grand Prix Pittsburgh Champion. Will Pittsburgh continue to be a place where the game's masters shine, or will a relative unknown get to put their name amongst some of the game's greatest players ever?

Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Decklists (Standard)

by Mike Rosenberg

Fourteen Grand Prix Trials fired off on Friday, giving fourteen different players an important three byes for today's main event. Three of those players chose Standard as their format of choice, earning three byes for their 40-card tournament by using 60-card decks. Check out their decks below!

Kevin Florio's Golgari

Planeswalker (6)
3 Garruk Relentless 3 Liliana of the Veil
ソーサリー (7)
3 Mutilate 4 Sign in Blood
インスタント (9)
3 Abrupt Decay 3 Victim of Night 3 Tragic Slip
エンチャント (1)
1 Underworld Connections
60 カード

Justin Rike's Gruul

ソーサリー (2)
2 Pillar of Flame
インスタント (4)
4 Searing Spear
エンチャント (4)
4 Rancor
60 カード

Jeremy Beaver's Jund

Saturday, 11:25 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winners (Sealed)

by Mike Roenberg and Jacob Van Lunen

You've seen the Standard trial decklists. Now check out the Gatecrash Sealed decks that got these players three byes for today's main event!

Zak Taylor - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Leonard Larratta - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Robert Castro - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Peter Holman - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Nick Rapp - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Ruddy Looney - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Matt King - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Andrew Karska - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Kurt Johanknecht - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Joe Demestrio - Format: Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner


Adam Johanknecht - Sealed – Grand Prix Trial Winner

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. – Quick Hits: Pros Favorite Cards for Sealed

by Jacob Van Lune
Matt Costa

What's the best common to open in Gatecrash Sealed Deck?: Grisly Spectacle

Uncommon?: One Thousand Lashes

Rare?: Stolen Identity

Mythic?: Aurelia, the Warleader

Owen Turtenwald

What's the best common to open in Gatecrash Sealed Deck?: Grisly Spectacle

Uncommon?: Truefire Paladin

Rare?: Undercity Plague

Mythic?: Gideon, Champion of Justice

Gerry Thompson

What's the best common to open in Gatecrash Sealed Deck?: In multiples, Kingpin's Pet. By itself, Smite.

Uncommon?: Truefire Paladin

Rare?: Boros Reckoner

Mythic?: Obzedat, Ghost Council

Willian Jensen

What's the best common to open in Gatecrash Sealed Deck?: Grisly Spectacle

Uncommon?: One Thousand Lashes

Rare?: Clan Defiance

Mythic?: Gideon, Champion of Justice

Ari Lax

What's the best common to open in Gatecrash Sealed Deck?: Grisly Spectacle

Uncommon?: Bane Alley Broker

Rare?: Gruul Ragebeast

Mythic?: Obzedat, Ghost Council

Saturday, 1:50 p.m. – Sealed Deck Exercise: The Pool

by Mike Rosenberg

Here at Grand Prix Pittsburgh, players are tasked with building the best 40 card deck that they can from a pool of six booster packs of Gatecrash. Sometimes, this decisions can be easy. Other times, every decision is difficult. Even the seemingly easy pools to work with offer some considerable options, and many of the pro players here aren't willing to immediately dismiss any option if there is an enticing enough reason to look at a certain guild or splash.

Today, we've selected a Sealed pool, which was assigned to a pro player here in the main event. They've already built their deck, and will be playing their deck of choice throughout the day. We'll reveal who they are at the end of the day, but for now, take a look at our mystery pro's Sealed pool. What choices was this player presented? What deck should this player end up going? This pool offers some seemingly solid Boros cards, but enough powerful option sleeps within this pool.

Let us know how you'd build this deck in the forums, and check back later today to see what deck our mystery pro went with!

Saturday, 2:15 a.m. – The Path to Greatness: An Interview with Tom Martell

by Jacob Van Lunen

Tom Martell (@Tommartell) was recently crowned champion at Pro Tour Gatecrash. Martell has been a recognizable figure in the competitive Magic scene for some time now. I had the opportunity to sit him down for some questions here in Pittsburgh.

Tom Martell

How long have you been playing Magic? How did you get started?

Since 1994. One of my friends introduced me to the game.

When and how did you decide to take the game more seriously?

I had been playing competitive chess since I was very young. I was winding down from that and looking for something else to do when one of my friends said he was going to a Magic tournament.

You were a reasonably strong player a few years back. In just a few short years you've managed to transform yourself into a world class competitor. What advice would you give to players looking to improve their game?

Try to play with people that are better than you and maintain a brutal honesty with yourself about what it is you do well and what parts of your game you need to improve upon.

Winning a Pro Tour is the pinnacle of Magic achievement, but it's important not to let success get in the way of improvement. What goals have you set for yourself going forward?

Once it happens once you wanna do it again. (Laughs) I want to win the Player's Championship and eventually make it into the Hall of Fame. Also, my career has been really long in terms of time and really short in terms of number of tournaments; I would like to sustain strong results over a larger sample size.

What were your goals in Gatecrash limited going into the Pro Tour? How, if at all, did the Pro Tour change your strategy going into a draft?

Avoid Simic at all costs. Try to be one of Boros, Orzhov, or Gruul. Have a very low curve. I'm more willing to draft Dimir now than I was at the Pro Tour, but I still want nothing to do with Simic.

Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – The Might of White

by Jacob Van Lunen

Ten of eleven undefeated Sealed Grinder lists were playing a generous helping of white cards. Let's take a look at Gatecrash Sealed's most powerful color and the secret to its success in the new limited format.

White's most obvious strength is the depth of its commons and uncommons. White gives us a huge number of playable creatures at common and uncommon rarity. Not creatures that combo with other cards or fit well in particular strategies, but creatures that are simply good on their own. Other cards, like Angelic Edict, Smite, Holy Mantle, and Knight of Obligation are exactly the types of cards one goes looking for when attempting to build an optimal sealed deck.

The common and uncommon gold card's that include white are also some of the most powerful in the set. Cards like Kingpin's Pet and Skyknight Legionnaire are significantly above the curve amongst other Gatecrash commons, while uncommons like Truefire Paladin, the guildmages, and One Thousand Lashes are more desirable than most of the format's rares.

White is still favored over other colors when drafting, but most drafters at the table will likely be battling for the strongest color in an attempt to be Boros, Orzhov, or some combination of the two. In Sealed, there's no threat of opponents taking your cards, giving players freedom to fearlessly sleeve up Gatecrash's best color.

Will White continue to be the best color in Gatecrash sealed? Do you expect the undefeated deck(s) from Day 1 to all include white?

Round 5 Feature Match – Eric Froehlich vs. David Ochoa

by Mike Rosenberg

Eric Froehlich and David Ochoa, both teammates and competitors on a race for pro points to qualify for the World Championship, clashed in an Orzhov match-up early in Day One of Grand Prix Pittsburgh. While Ochoa's deck had a powerful reason to splash red, featuring Assemble the Legion, Froehlich's straight two-color deck was anything but fair when it came to its rares.

Would Ochoa's five mana enchantment outpace Froehlich's frightening threats, or would Froehlich extort Ochoa out of the match before the legion can do any damage?

Game 1

Both players drew their seven and almost simultaneously shipped their first hands back. Ochoa was first to act with a rather petite Wight of Precinct Six, which died to an Executioner's Strike after it attacked for 1. Ochoa played Prophetic Prism to dig for a land, but found nothing and shipped it back to Froehlich, who added Corpse Blockade to the table.

Ochoa found a third land, a Plains, and used it and the Prophetic Prism to run out Daring Skyjek and Dutiful Thrull. Froehlich had Crypt Ghast to potentially put the game out of reach early, but Mugging from Ochoa (off the Prism's mana conversion) disposed of it, while Basilica Screecher gave him an air attacker. In the face of Ochoa's three creatures, Froehlich simply had Syndicate Enforcer and nothing else.

Ochoa sent the team in, as Daring SkyjekBasilica Screecher got in for 4 while Dutiful Thrull regenerated when it got blocked by some corpses. Ochoa had no other action, but that was not the case for Froehlich, who had the powerful Treasury Thrull.

Eric Froehlich shows his opponent some treasures he found in his Sealed pool.

Ochoa's answer? A fifth land and Assemble the Legion.

Froehlich sent the Treasury Thrull in, getting back his Crypt Ghast. Ochoa blocked it with both Daring Skyjek and Dutiful Thrull, prompting a Killing Glare from Froehlich. Ochoa's two creatures hit the graveyard, and Froehlich played his Crypt Ghast, now in a commanding position. Assemble the Legion ticked up to one for Ochoa, but it did not appear to be fast enough. He made his soldier token and passed.

Froehlich noted that Ochoa had two cards in hand, and used Purge the Profane to force Ochoa's play. Ochoa cast Aerial Maneuver on his 1/1 soldier token, then lost a land out of hand. Froehlich, now with the coast clear, sent his team, putting Ochoa to 6 after losing a Syndicate Enforcer to the soldier token.

Ochoa made two more tokens and passed with full mana open. Froehlich drew and played Zarichi Tiger, extorting twice thanks to