The tournament, like every Grand Prix, had been full of memorable stories, of exciting matches, of interesting decks doing interesting stuff. The following are our Top 5 picks, the five moments which made Grand Prix Rotterdam an event to remember …
5. When Mattias Kres Went for the Storm Combo Kill
This wouldn't have been news if the tournament had been, say, a Legacy or Modern event. But this was Kaladesh Team Limited. Still, Mattias Kres, Dan Pruijt, and Jan van der Vegt built one deck, piloted by Kres, which won multiple games via Aetherflux Reservoir, including one caught on camera against GP Vienna 2014 champ Aniol Alcaraz. As Titus Chalk quipped on Twitter: "I love that despite this not being cube you guys have managed to force storm!"
The actual engine to fuel Aetherflux Reservoir was something quite simple. Kres's deck had three Aviary Mechanic, two of which were all that was needed to repeatedly cast Aviary Mechanic, return the other, play the other, return the first, and so on. And this wasn't the only cool thing Kres was doing with Aviary Mechanic, or with Decoction Module. Looking at Kres's decklist, I counted as much as ten nonland cards which could benefit from the ability to return permanents/creatures to his hand. You know what? Just take a look yourself; this thing is a true beauty!
4. When Ondřej Stráský Got a High-Five … from his Opponent
It comes with the nature of team tournaments that there's a lot more camaraderie between players. At other events, you might want your friends to win their important matches. If you're on the same team, however, their important matches are your important matches. So we get to see a lot more high-fives at these things: for wins, for cool plays, or simply to celebrate opening a Kaladesh Invention. And the generally more friendly atmosphere is contagious and often transcends the boundary between one team and another …
Case in point: When Danny de Rooij first got to see (14) Ondřej Stráský's Sword of Light and Shadow in the Round 7 feature match between their two teams, his first impulse was to congratulate Stráský on getting the very rare Masterpiece.
3. When Individual Records of 18-9 Combined to Make one 9-0
There hardly could be a better story to show that teams are stronger than any one individual player than that of Minh Nguyen, Alistair Martin, and Dan Burnand (pictured below, left to right). On the first day, their individual records in matches came to a lackluster average of 6-3. But whenever one of them lost, the other two won, leading to a combined record of 9-0. They truly were stronger together!
Winning every round 2-1 was of course quite a nailbiter of a rollercoaster ride. But when the challenge was completed, the smiles were just that wider for it. Dan Burnand was almost jumping up and down with excitement, telling everyone: "We lost nine matches today. Nine matches!"
2. When Frank Karsten Made his First Playoffs since 2005
The Netherlands' Frank Karsten had been in the Hall of Fame for a long time and he certainly had the results to justify his place among the game's greats. But in recent years, when he could be found in the feature match area during the Top 8 of an event, it was because he was doing coverage. In fact, he had almost signed up to do coverage work at this Grand Prix too. Good that he didn't, but instead registered as a player along with teammates Bas Melis and Brent Vos, two friends of his from his hometown of Eindhoven.
They not only reached their goal of making the Top 4 and getting Melis and Vos qualified for the Pro Tour. They did one better and made it all the way to the finals. Renowned Constructed expert Karsten and his mates didn't stand a chance then, though …
1. When the Draft Master Struck Again
Spain's 2016 national champion Javier Dominguez, Portugal's 2016 national champion (12) Márcio Carvalho, and Argentina's 2016 national champion Luis Salvatto added another title to their respective résumés this weekend. Next week, at the World Magic Cup, all of them would be playing on their country's respective teams, possibly against one another. This weekend, they made a compelling case for international alliances.
For Carvalho, the Pro Tour 2015–2016 Season's Draft Master, this even marked back-to-back victories in Limited, as he had won Grand Prix London about a month ago, going 9-0 across the three drafts then. Carvalho wasn't happy with his final draft deck this time around, though. Then again, one of the truisms of Team Limited is that cooperation leads to stronger decks in Sealed, whereas antagonism between the two teams leads to weaker decks in the Booster Draft portion. In fact, all of the decks from the final draft looked much worse than the Sealed Decks these people had been playing earlier. In the end, Carvalho didn't need to win his final match, as Dominguez and Salvatto won theirs.
Congratulations to Javier Dominguez, Márcio Carvalho, and Luis Salvatto, champions of Grand Prix Rotterdsam 2016!