Few things are as lovely as a Saturday Day 2. When you add Legacy to the mix you get a recipe you get something special. But a Legacy Grand Prix Day 2 with Reid Duke on camera all day? Well, that's a rare treat indeed.
GP Reid Duke
If you were hanging out on Twitter at all on Saturday, there's a good chance you saw someone talk about GP Reid Duke. That's because Reid was in the Feature Match area all weekend long as we followed his pursuit of the Player of the Year title. Reid entered the day with a 7-1 record and promptly won his first round in a Grixis Control mirror match.
That was good news for Reid, and when the other two players in the hunt for Player of the Lead - Seth Manfield and Luis Salvatto - picked up their third loss, they left the Legacy Grand Prix to try their luck in Standard. That left Legacy under Duke's claim - and everyone wanted to watch.
Reid picked up his second loss in Round 10 to Lucien Longlais piloting Lands. Things looked dire in Round 11 as Reid was up against another Lands pilot in Ashok Chitturi. In game three Reid had Ashok dead on board and the Lands were scooped up. Reid then racked up wins against Sean Burnett and Matt Nass. Reid had to battle back from a rather impressive first turn from Matt.
Reid picked up his third loss to Alexander Chen in Round 14. With the Day 2 field being relatively small Reid was live for Top 8 entering the final round of Swiss. Facing off against Anuraag Das and Miracles in the final round of Swiss, Reid managed to put a Liliana, the Last Hope emblem into play.
It was not to be. A timely Terminus and a Monastery Mentor spelled the end of Game 2. There was barely any time left on the clock for the third game and on the fifth extra turn the Reid and Anuraag shook hands with a draw. The result? One of the most memorable 22nd place finishes ever - but Reid was not able to make up any ground in the Player of the Year race.
Player of the Year Race
Speaking of the Player of the Year, finding themselves out of contention both Seth Manfield and Luis Salvatto decided to enter the Standard fray. The result? Both are entering the Standard Day 2 undefeated. While Seth needs a Top 8 finish to widen the gap between himself and Reid, Luis needs to win just three more matches to tie Reid. With 12-3 finish, Luis would pull ahead of Reid and into a dead heat with Seth for first place. And this doesn't even take Top 8 finishes into consideration. The last few weeks of the season are going to be a wild ride for sure!
I'd have to revoke my writer card if I didn't take an opportunity to talk about Pauper. 58 players showed up on Saturday to do battle in the Pauper Championship. The five-round event cut to the Top 8 and the final table featured two players well known to the Pauper world.
Kendra Smith, better known as TheMaverickGal was piloting her trusty Elves deck. Her opponent in the finals was Jherjames Bisconde, who goes by Jherjamesb on Magic Online. Jherjames has plenty of experience with Delver variants, sometimes focusing on Jace's Erasure. For this event, however, he decided on Izzet Delver.
Pauper Elves plays similarly to its Modern cousin. Instead of Heritage Druid the deck relies on Birchlore Rangers and Nettle Sentinel turn creatures into mana. It gets a boost from Priest of Titania and can go wide with Lys Alana Huntmaster or tall with either Timberwatch Elf or Elvish Vanguard.
Izzet Delver is perhaps the best deck in the format. It combines the efficient threat of Delver of Secrets with the powerful stack control package of Spellstutter Sprite and Counterspell and board control in Lightning Bolt and Skred. Combine this with card selection like Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preordain and you have a recipe for a powerful deck. And that's before we get to Gush.
These two decks are known quantities and both of players were familiar with the matchup. It was a close three game set with each game balanced on a pinhead. At the end of the day Izzet Delver proved just a bit better and Jherjames emerged triumphant. Delver of Secrets: great in every format. Congratulations Jherjames - you're Pauper Champion!
Ethan Weber's Wild Richmond Ride
Ethan Weber doesn't get to play much Legacy. His hometown of Sarnia, Ontario has a relatively small community and while there are a few folks who have large collections there just are not enough players to regularly fire Legacy events.
This is the story Ethan's friends Reece and Austen were eager to tell after Weber made the Top 8. More impressive was the fact that Ethan did not drop a match on Day 2 with a deck he has only been playing for a week: Eldrazi Stompy. In a format where some play the same deck for years at a time, Ethan is something of an anomaly.
This Top 8 was Weber's best finish and despite an early exit at the hands of Lucien Longlais' Lands, Reece and Austen expressed a glimmer of hope. Maybe their friend's Top 8 would spark interest in the format. Maybe the fact he ran the table would inspire others. Hopefully the next time there's a Legacy tournament in Sarnia, Weber is there to play against some new faces.
The Top 8
Ethan Weber was joined in the Top 8 by Brad Bonin (Miracles), Kyle Miller (Grixis Control), Andrew Cuneo (Miracles), Alexander Chen (Temur Delver), Noah Walker (Death's Shadow), Joe Lossett (Stoneblade), and Lucien Longlais (Lands). Just as Legacy has a cardpool that spans the entire history of Magic, the decks in the Top 8 span the entire history of Legacy from old stalwarts Temur Delver and Miracles to relative newcomer Eldrazi Stompy to the fresh-off-the-Pro Tour tech of Death's Shadow.
The quarterfinals saw Brad Bonin take out Kyle Miller. That set him up for a Miracles mirror against Andrew Cuneo. On the other side of the bracket, Noah Walker took out Joe Lossett in two quick games to set himself up for a semifinals match against Longlais' Lands. Longlais took the match in two games and Cuneo took his match in three games.
The finals of the Legacy Grand Prix were between two players with legacies of their own. Andrew Cuneo is a respected deck builder and a member of Team Ultimate Guard. Lucien Longlais drifted away from the game after Pro Tour Honolulu in 2006. A few years ago he got back into the game a few years ago after hitting up a local Grand Prix and going 11-4. Then he hit another 11-4. A Pro Tour qualification later he had the fire once again.
Standard Still Stands
But there's an entire second Day 2 to be played tomorrow! In addition to Seth Manfield and Luis Salvatto there are five other 8-0 Standard players: Yoshihiko Ikawa, Alex Hon, Christian Hauck, Oliver Tiu, and Pierson Geyer. We'll be covering all the Standard action tomorrow starting at 9am local time on twitch.tv/magic.
Cuneo Goes Back to Basics
If you give Andrew Cuneo a good control deck he is going to win games of Magic. Going back to one of the first Draw-Go style decks that won with Rainbow Efreet, Cuneo has been closely associated with drawing cards and countering spells. Miracles is a deck well suited to Cuneo's strengths as it not only draws plenty of cards and counters plenty of spells, it also happens to run one of the best cards in the history of Magic in Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
After losing the first game to a turn two 20/20 Marit Lage token, Cuneo came back strong in Games 2 and 3. Leaning hard on Back to Basics to keep Longlais light on mana, Cuneo was able to leverage the superior card selection of blue cards to keep the good cards coming. After Back to Basics opened the door for Andrew, Jace, the Mind Sculptor slammed it shut. A Swords to Plowshares on a Marit Lage token may have left Longlais at over 40 life but Jace proved too powerful. As the loyalty ticked up Cuneo drew closer to victory until it was too much and Longlais extended the hand.
Congratulations to Andrew Cuneo - your Grand Prix Richmond Legacy Champion!