Photo Essay

Posted in Event Coverage on August 31, 2015

By Neale Talbot

Grand Prix Santiago was an amazing experience for me. I had never been to Chile before, let alone South America. Flying in from the Pacific Ocean and seeing the Andes for the first time was fantastic.

Here is the story of Grand Prix Santiago.

Lucy Moon as Avacyn in front of La Moneda Palace in Santiago.

799 player had come from across South America and the world to play Magic Origins and contest for the title of the winner of Grand Prix Santiago 2015.

Magic Origins Limited was the format for Grand Prix Santiago.

Everyone seemed very eager to get started, filling the atrium to the venue before they were allowed inside

Planeswalkers awaiting the official start of the event.

Once the Sealed pools had been opened, documented and passed, players got to building their decks.

The first cut is the hardest.

In between rounds, I caught up with some of the players to hear their stories.

Cristobal Leon

Cristobal Leon

“I live in Santiago. I’ve been playing for 10 years, however I stopped for a while and came back last year. A friend at my university had a deck, and showed it to me. We started playing friendly Magic, and then we got competitive. We started to get decks together and started playing Friday Night Magic. I competed in Grand Prix Santiago last year, not so well, so I’m hoping to be better this year. I like Magic for the variety of strategies, and you can play it with both kids and grand-parents. Playing Magic can bring people together.”

Paula Oyarzún Jiménez

Paula Oyarzun

“I live in the Andes, over 1000m above sea level. I have a cousin who played Magic about 17 years ago. He taught me the basics. I played casually for a while. During Gatecrash I played in the Pre-Releases and was charmed with Magic! I started playing FNM in a store in Devir, and I won a lot. It seemed I was pretty good. So I started playing constructed, I was having so much fun. Then I saw a Grand Prix in Santiago and Magic exploded for me, due to the scale of the event. This year I came ninth at a PTQ, so it has been a very good year for me.”

The Punta Arenas Crew

Carlos Lecaros, Daniel Gonzalez, Ingrid Clavero & Pablo Paracán

“We’re from Punta Arenas, the southernmost continental city, right on the tip of South America, surrounded by the icy waters of the Strait of Magellan. We’re part of a group of twelve who travelled up by plane to Santiago. We play Magic together every week, we have been playing together as a group for more or less fifteen years. It’s allowed us to create a bond between us beyond Magic, with parties, birthdays and other celebrations. Our community is very strongly united by Magic, and we have stayed united. We share a lot of cards, pooling them to build constructed decks. One of our group, Daniel Gonzales, hasn’t lost a match in the Grand Prix so far - but he has to go to his brother’s wedding, so he won’t be able to finish!”

I also met some dedicated cosplayers.

Claudia Sepulveda as Nissa, Vastwood Seer.

Eve Ortega as Liliana, Heretical Healer

Lucy Moon as Jace, Telepath Unbound

The first day ended with only two players left undefeated, Christian Flores and Jorge Guerra. Of the 799 who started, only 81 were left in the competition. It was time to sleep.

Day 1 wraps up at Grand Prix Santiago.

Day 2 opened with Magic Origins Booster Draft.

Players ready for Day 2 to begin.

Players drafting at Grand Prix Santiago.

The stress started to show.

Christian Flores and Jorge Guerra faced each other in the first feature match of the day. It was Flores who remained undefeated, besting Guerra in two games.

Christian Flores and Jorge Guerra contest the King of the Hill spot in Round 10.

As the players battled it out, I met some more wonderful people.

Janit Mindis

Janit Mindis, Judge

“I live in Buenos Aires and flew in to help the judging team. I haven’t had a chance to look around Santiago yet, but I will stay a few days and use them to explore. I like judging; I like the idea of helping people to have fun and have a good time tournaments, but I also have a strong sense of integrity, so I want to maintain the integrity of tournaments. I’ve been playing for about three years, starting during Return to Ravnica. I play in PPTQs and WMCs when I’m not judging. I love that in Magic, there is infinite variety, even with the same deck every game will play out differently.”

Itani Hiroshi & Saotome Yukiyo

Itani Hiroshi & Saotome Yukiyo

(Translated from Japanese into Spanish into English)

Itani: This is the third time I’ve come to Chile, in ‘13, ‘14, and now. In 2013 I was travelling the world playing Grand Prixs. At my seventh Grand Prix in a row I met Yukiyo, at Grand Prix Santiago 2013.

Saotome: We become friends, and after that Itani would come to meet me at the Grand Prixs in Santiago. I’m Chilean-Japanese, and own one of the best Japanese restaurants in Santiago, Restaurant Japan.

Itani: It serves real Japanese food. But I also love the local caramelised nuts local to Chile.

Saotome: Hiroshi is also a judge - he judged at Grand Prix Chiba this year.

Itani: I’m travelling around the world to learn how other people, and other cultures, judge, so I can learn how to be a better judge, and bring back those lessons to Japan, to make a better community there.

At the end of the Swiss rounds, only the Top 8 remained.

The Top 8 players of Grand Prix Santiago 2015.

In the end, only two remained; Rodrigo Lopez and Tomoharu Saito. But as you can read in the Top 8 Coverage, Saito ended up conceding to López.

López and Saito shake hands after López wins.

And that was it. Rodrigo López was the Champion of Magic Origins at Grand Prix Santiago.

Rodrigo López, winner of Grand Prix Santiago.


I could not have done any of this without Matias Marin, who helped in every way imaginable; translation, organisation and beveragification. I would like to give Matias a special thank-you for all his help. Thanks Matias, mi familia!

Matias Marin & Yours Truly

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