This weekend and next, Rotterdam, the Netherlands' second largest city, played host to the international Magic community. This week, teams of three players each traveled to Rotterdam to compete in Kaladesh Team Sealed and Booster Draft for the title of champions of Grand Prix Rotterdam 2016 and the top prize of $15,000. Next week, many of the same players would return for this year's World Magic Cup, where four-player teams from 73 different nations battle for another title and their share of the $250,000 prize pool.
With the two tournaments on back to back weekends, the turnout at this Grand Prix was especially massive. Team Limited always brings out the pros, of course, even with no byes granted. After all, a high win percentage only becomes higher when you're on a team with other high-class players (some math). Plus, it's tremendous fun. Thus, more than half of the Top 25 ranked players (yes, thirteen) registered for Grand Prix Rotterdam.
Several teams even sported two ranked players, most notably the team-up of (5) Reid Duke and Hall of Famer (3) Owen Turtenwald with fellow Hall of Fame member Ben Stark. (4) Lukas Blohon joined forces with (18) Petr Sochůrek and four-time GP champion Martin Jůza; (10) Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and (14) Ondřej Stráský picked up two-time World Champion Shahar Shenhar; (13) Martin Müller and (15) Joel Larsson found a third in Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir champion Martin Dang.
Team tournaments are also famous for bringing together old friends, and this one certainly didn't disappoint. Long-time super pro Jon Finkel who made his first Pro Tour Top 8 in the 1997–1998 season (and his most recent just this year), for instance, brought 1999 World Championship quarterfinalist Jamie Parke and old-timer Chris Pikula whose first Pro Tour Top 8 dates back to the 1996–1997 season.
Then there were the many teams who used this as training grounds for next week's World Magic Cup. For example, three of Japan's four WMC team members were playing together this weekend; the same was true for Belgium and Luxembourg. Conversely, GP Paris 2014 champion Javier Dominguez, 2016 World Championship finalist (12) Márcio Carvalho, and Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad quarterfinalist Luis Salvatto made a case for international cooperation with their alliance, being this year's WMC captains for Team Spain, Portugal, and Argentina, respectively.
All in all, the list of registered players made for one very huge and very literal wall of text. The following photo almost looks like a reenactment of the art for Words of Wisdom, doesn't it?
In any case Grand Prix Rotterdam was already shaping up to have some magnificent storylines. And this was just the "Who?"
The "What?" was an entirely different question and one which was no less interesting. What was the pros' approach to Kaladesh Team Sealed? What were the best color combinations? What colors could you split? What were some of the pitfalls to be avoided? Follow our coverage for insight into the deck-building process and for live video of the weekend's matches!
In the end, of course, we circle back to the question of: "Who?" Who would defeat all others and hoist the trophies? Stay tuned to find out …