Top Storylines This Weekend

Posted in GRAND PRIX SÃO PAULO 2016 on July 2, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Team Limited is an immensely popular format which offers an experience unlike any other. Instead of going head-to-head, your two teammates and yourself are up against three other players! More importantly, it is a great opportunity for family and friends to engage in well-natured competition hand in hand, making any Team Limited Grand Prix such a joyous occasion!

What are the great stories that we're expecting to come out of this weekend? Here are some of the most compelling storylines that I'm hoping to deliver to you!

Shadows over Innistrad: The Final Flourish

An exciting expansion might be on the horizon, but let's not take away the relevance of Shadows over Innistrad just yet.

Despite there being no more Standard Premier Events until the release of Eldritch Moon, this is one great opportunity for Shadows over Innistrad to strut its stuff! São Paulo will also be the last time that Shadows over Innistrad will be played on its own, before Emrakul, the Promised End rears its ugly ends!

Each trio will receive 12 Shadows over Innistrad boosters and will do their best to construct three great decks. Because of a bigger card pool, decks are generally more powerful in Team Sealed than in regular Sealed Deck or Booster Draft. This intrinsic factor also poses numerous interesting challenges, which brings us to our next point!

The Challenges of Team Limited

  • Do we build one very powerful deck and two mediocre ones, or should we have three above average decks? Balance of power is a sensitive dial that needs to be adjusted carefully.
  • With only five colors in Magic, how should we distribute them across three decks? What are the best color combinations, and which color best supports another? Are mono-colored decks viable?
  • Which player receives the best deck and who receives the least powerful one? Who gets the aggro deck and who gets the control deck? Is deck allocation and seating relevant? Competitors will need to decide upon the optimum configuration in order to play to their strengths.
  • Communication is also an important element. How do you express your ideas across to your teammates without spilling the beans to your opponents? Can you also gang up to create a convincing bluff to throw your opponents off-track?

Wow, that's a lot of things you'll never need to think about if you're playing solo Magic, which makes this weekend extraordinarily exciting! These are only a handful of conundrums off the top of my head, and I'm certainly looking forward to solving these mysteries of the deep!

After all, there're still a lot of secrets to unravel on Innistrad!

Gee, I need two teammates. But, who?

Not only are the gameplay dynamics vastly different, team composition is also what we look out for at every Team Limited event!

For example, who are Hall-of-Famers Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Willy Edel teaming up with? What about Platinum Pro Thiago Saporito? The three winningest Brazilian players could bond together but with the National Champion race in mind, it might not be the most strategic move.

There are also many, many esteemed players in the room, and we'll need to wait for main event to kick off before shedding some light on the killer line-ups!

Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad Top 8 competitor, Luis Salvatto (center) with buddies Ignacio Barbero and Nicolas De Nicola.

However, that's not to say that the three best players in the world teaming up will produce the best results so nobody should ever feel like the underdogs. From what I gather, there are several lesser-known trios that have put in so much preparation that their efforts might trump a single Limited specialist who hasn't done any homework.

Also, the luck of the draw means that any team could be a potential victor! I look forward to finding the strongest Sealed pools and putting them under the limelight for everyone at home!

Race for Grand Prix Master

The player who accumulates the most Pro Points from Grand Prix, and Grand Prix alone, will become the Grand Prix Master.

Not only does this honor come with bragging rights, the achievement is accompanied with a coveted spot at the World Championships, the most prestigious tournament of the year. We'll be pitting 24 of the best Magic players against each other, as they attempt to claim the lion's share of the $150,000 purse, as well as the priceless title of World Champion 2016!

There is just one final chance to attend Grand Prix after São Paulo, and players can choose between Montreal, Stockholm or Sydney which takes place on the same weekend. This means that time is running short for our aspirants, putting the world on the edge of their seats. To spice things up even more, the top contenders are all within a few Pro Points from each other! Despite the race being in its final throes, it's still rather difficult to determine who is victorious until the very end!

Naturally, the frontrunners of the race Tomoharu Saito and Brian Braun-Duin are both present in São Paulo. A good finish here will give them some breathing space, while a lackluster one will present a lot of tension.

(16) Reid Duke has elected to give this weekend a miss, meaning that he will be keeping his fingers firmly crossed all weekend. Since (1) Seth Manfield and (2) Owen Turtenwald are already invited to the World Championships, they're staying home for a well-deserved rest, probably immersing themselves in juicy Eldritch Moon previews!

Brazil National Champion: Who's in the lead?

Also, this might be one of the last few opportunities for a couple of Brazilians to shoot for national glory. The player who has accumulated the most Pro Points in their country within a season will not only be crowned the National Champion, but also secure himself or herself at spot at the World Magic Cup.

At the moment, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is in the lead, with Thiago Saporito 6 Pro Points behind.

Since the Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Champion will receive 30 Pro Points, we'll eliminate whomever has less than 26 Pro Points. This means that the only other potential contender is Guilherme Merjam.

Despite the long shot, the dream is not entirely dead. Here's why!

Defending Champions

Since Merjam is at 29 Pro Points, a Top 4 finish this weekend will bump him up to Gold, qualifying him for at least the next five Pro Tours, including Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. Even with all the stars lining up, Merjam is not very close to threatening the upset unless he wins the Pro Tour! Aside from the noble quest of locking Gold, he is also looking to repeat a certain feat!

Coincidentally, Merjam also happens to be the defending Champion of the previous Brazilian Team Limited Grand Prix, taking down Grand Prix São Paulo 2014 with Tulio Jaudy and Carlos dos Santos Esteves. Did they stick to the same configuration this weekend? You'll have to stick around to find out!

And finally, let's also not forget who won Grand Prix São Paulo 2015! With so much to watch out for, what an exciting weekend this is going to be!