Over 1,700 players showed up to Grand Prix Portland, itching to prove themselves and test the evolving metagame. At the close of Day 1, four players and four decks stood undefeated, poised to make a run at the tournament Top Eight.
Jiachen "JC" Tao
Seattle player and member of team East-West Bowl Jiachen Tao showed up to Portland with Abzan Walkers, a deck he developed out of a few Pro Tour ideas he thought showed promise but didn't end up making the final cut. The deck earns its title by playing an incredible twelve Planeswalkers. Tao told his teammates about the deck, but didn't push it. It was picked up by Pascal Maynard, who tweaked the deck to have fewer Planeswalkers. It was a crucial mistake on Maynard's part, as Tao joked going to the final round - he was undefeated, while Maynard had picked up a loss.
The final round Tao played against another Abzan deck, this one with fewer Planeswalkers and a colorless splash. Though the games were close, they didn't pan out well for his opponent, who learned a similar lesson to Tao's teammate - more Planeswalkers, fewer losses.
Michael Hantz, a player from the San Diego area, lost exactly one game all day piloting Black-Green Delirium. He called it the day's "one sore spot," a game in round eight against Bant Collected Company where he made a rash decision to active Ishkanah, Grafwidow twice to try and secure a win and was punished by a Reflector Mage. He went on to secure the match in extra turns with help from a Liliana emblem and an army of the undead.
In his final match of the day Hantz played against U/R Fevered Burn, a match-up that worried him. Hantz's all-stars are potent three drops like Liliana, the Last Hope and Tireless Tracker, and they carried the final games for him, pressuring his opponent enough to turn the burn spells away from his life total and toward his creatures.
Xin Sui, from Beijing, put together a Sultai deck because he lacked Lilianas and Emrakuls, but made up for it with copies of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. He was happy with the final result, feeling he had good match-ups against most of the decks in the room and particularly again the Temur Emerge deck that performed well at the Pro Tour.
His deck was uniquely well-suited to his round nine match-up, where he too faced U/R Fevered Burn. His copies of Noose Constrictor prevented the deck's key enchantment from dealing him any damage. In game one he drew the snake just in time, playing it and discarding down to just two cards. In game two he started with two Constrictors in hand and never looked back.
Christian Keeth, from Las Vegas, piloted Jund Delirium to a perfect day one finish. In the final game of the final match, he and his opponent were in turns when Keeth top-decked an Emrakul to secure an eleventh-hour victory. Keeth played against a little bit of everything in his journey to the top of the standings, and felt that Jund's access to powerful delirium and discard spells gave the deck an edge. There was an element of luck to it as well, Keeth acknowledged. Some tournaments you hit three bad match-ups in a row and are done, but on days like today, you finish undefeated.
Congratulations to Grand Prix Portland's day one undefeated players!