The Undefeated Drafters from Grand Prix Sacramento

Posted in Event Coverage on July 23, 2018

By Corey Burkhart

After six matches of Core Set Magic 2019 draft, only three players managed to achieve a flawless record of 6 match wins. The three players were Victor Reyes, Shengling Hu, and Marcus Luong, among whom, Marcus managed to make it to the top 8 as the number three seed. I spent some time looking over their drafts looking for commonalities in the cards that lead to their victories as well as strategies to begin making some early conclusions on the Core Set Magic 2019 draft format.

The Big Takeaway

White was the most popular color for these players. Not only was white in all six of their decks, but it wasn't for splashing a powerful piece of removal like Luminous Bonds or Hierophant's Cage, these decks were dedicated to playing white cards. Exploring the white cards further, Loung and Hu prioritized Angel of the Dawn fairly highly. Most of their decks had it as one of their top end threats, and both of Hu's decks had the powerful common at the top of his curve to support his ground creatures like Star-Crowned Stag.

White may have been the most popular color, but the supporting color was different nearly every time. Some decks were White-Black with a life gain theme. Others were White-Blue with an artifact theme. Luong's second draft was White-Red with four copies of Viashino Pyromancer! Reyes had a White-Green deck that wasn't focused around Enchantments, but instead focused on a stellar curve and had the enchantments as an effective subtheme with multiple copies of Knight's Pledge and Oakenform.

Being Assertive

Beyond just their color choice, the most common thing was that the players were dictating the action. Looking at their deck's these players focused on playing two drop creatures and getting onto the battlefield early. Some of the decks then used haste creatures in the midgame, others used auras to augment their creatures. At the end of the day, these three players didn't want to take their foot off the gas, once they got ahead in the game, they wanted to make sure they ended the game that way.

Some of the key cards that allowed for this were Inspired Charge, Pegasus Courser, and Star-Crowned Stag and Angel of the Dawn. While each deck didn't have at least one of these cards, these players focused on ways to keep their creatures alive and keeping them attacking. Suspicious bookcase, Abnormal Endurance, Marauder's Axe, Sleep, Sure Strike, and Ghirapur Guide were some of the non-white standouts that these players had in their decks at making sure that when the board began to be stalled out, they had ways to keep their creatures attacking and pressuring their opponent's life total.

Looking Forward

It will be interesting looking forward to see how players can adapt to this form of aggression. The tools exist in the format to play control decks and even mill decks! While these more defensive strategies may not have been the star of the show this weekend in Grand Prix Sacramento, there's information to look over from Grand Prix Chiba and next weekend and Grand Prix Minneapolis as well. The players in our top eight here this weekend will surely know of the successes of these aggressive strategies, and we'll see what they choose to employ in their final draft of the weekend on their quest for the title.

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