Grand Prix San Diego 2013

Nathan Holiday is flying high with his first Grand Prix win here in San Diego! Though he has a math test tomorrow, Holiday passed his Magic math exam today with meticulous play of the methodical Eggs combo deck. A California native, Holiday will be traveling back to San Diego in two months' time to try his hand at his first Pro Tour, Pro Tour Dragon's Maze.

The story of the weekend is diversity. With a grand total of 36 different archetypes playing in Day 2 and eight completely distinct decks in the Top 8, Modern is showing itself to be the format where anything is possible. You want to play fair, midrange creatures? Brian Kibler's Domri Naya rolled through the field into the Top 8. Faster? Gruul Blitz and Robots both had strong showings. Slower? UWR Control or the 4c Gifts Ungiven both had great finishes with one in the final eight. And, as Holiday proved, there are unfair options as well. In addition to Eggs, Through the Breach, Scapeshift, Burn, and multiple Pod variations made it deep into Day 2 play if not the final cut.

Daylight Savings time means the sun is still shining in San Diego on Saint Patrick's Day. Which works out well metaphorically, because though the end of day is in sight, there's plenty to still look forward to before the World Magic Cup qualifying season disappears into the night. We've got more Grand Prix coming soon: Pittsburgh, Strasbourg, Portland, and Beijing. And it all culminates two weeks after the release of the last set in the Return to Ravnica block at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze right here in San Diego, California!

Have a great evening from everyone here in gorgeous California, and send Nathan Holiday good wishes on his math test tomorrow—because he'll likely be staring at his trophy all night.

top 8 bracket


(1) Eric Froehlich

(8) Matt Ferrando

(4) Nathan Holiday

(5) Brian Kibler

(2) Bryan De La Torre

(7) Sammy Tukeman

(3) David Sharfman

(6) Ken Yukuhiro


Eric Froehlich, 2-1

Nathan Holiday, 2-0

Sammy Tukeman, 2-0

David Sharfman, 2-1


Nathan Holiday, 2-1

Sammy Tukeman, 2-0


Nathan Holiday, 2-0






  • by Nate Price & Marc Calderaro
    Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix San Diego
  • by Nate Price
    Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control) vs. Nathan Holiday (Eggs)
  • by Marc Calderaro
    Eric Froehlich (Jund) vs. Nathan Holiday (Eggs)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    David Sharfman (Scapeshift) vs. Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control)
  • by Nate Price
    David Sharfman (Scapeshift) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (Jund)
  • by Mike Rosenberg
    Eric Froehlich (Jund) vs. Matt Ferrando (GWB Junk)
  • by Ben Schwarz
    Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control) vs. Bryan De La Torre (Robots)
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet


1. Nathan Holiday $3,500
2. Sammy Tukeman $2,300
3. Eric Froehlich $1,500
4. David Sharfman $1,500
5. Bryan De La Torre $1,000
6. Brian Kibler $1,000
7. Ken Yukuhiro $1,000
8. Matt Ferrando $1,000

pairings, results, standings


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


15 14 13 12 11 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Top 8 Player profiles & Decklists

Ken Yukuhiro

Age: 24
Hometown: Wakayama, Japan
Occupation: Card shop employee at Mana Source

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 GP Top 8s, 1 PT Top 8

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
I played multicolor Jund. There are many tricolor creature decks in the format, and I thought that this deck was good against them.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
I would have added two copies of Thundermaw Hellkite to my sideboard.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

There are far fewer decks that played Deathrite Shaman than I expected, which I found very interesting.

Ken Yukuhiro

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Sammy Tukeman

Age: 21
Hometown: San Diego, CA

Previous Magic Accomplishments:

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
UWR Control. It was a last-minute audible.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
The deck needed Mystic Gates.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

Ajani Vengeant. The card was insane.

Sammy Tukeman

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Eric Froehlich

Age: 29
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: Poker player

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
3 PT Top 8s, 8 GP Top 8s

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Ajanimaw. I'm comfortable with Jund, and it had all of the most powerful cards with some top end things that people didn't expect.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
It was perfect (as usual).

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

The Jund deck we played.

Eric Froehlich

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David Sharfman

Age: 23
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Occupation: Medical Assistant

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
PT Nagoya CHAMPION, GP Paris CHAMPION, GP Costa Rica...runner-up.

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
UGR Scapeshift. I've been playing it for quite some time and felt it was pretty well positioned against what I thought the decks would be.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Maybe some more Eggs hate in the sideboard since the deck is gaining popularity again.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

Monoblack Discard with Wrench Mind, Funeral Charm, and all! (Shout out to my girlfriend, Krystal!)

David Sharfman

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Nathan Holiday

Age: 21
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA
Occupation: Student

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
I won a Cube draft on Magic Online with Storm.

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Eggs, because two mana Tinker for Black Lotus is a legal play.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck tou played?
Probably nothing. Maybe add a Silence in the board. It's good against UW Control, which was my only loss in the Swiss.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

Comboing through two Faerie Macabres with Twincast was sweet.

Nathan Holiday

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Brian Kibler

Age: 32
Hometown: Oceanside, CA
Occupation: Game Designer

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
5 PT Top 8s (2 wins)13 GP Top 8s (3 wins)2010 Pro Tour Hall of Fame2012 US National Team Captain

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Domri Naya. I built it to be resilient to the removal played now (Lightning Bolt/Lightning Helix), with powerful tools for the other midrange decks like Jund/Junk.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
I'd consider finding room for one or two Tectonic Edges to improve the Scapeshift matchup.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

I played against a Bloodghast/Gravecrawler/Lotleth Troll deck that was prett sweet.

Brian Kibler

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Bryan De La Torre

Age: 23
Hometown: Claremont, CA
Occupation: Retail Manager at the Monstore

Previous Magic Accomplishments:

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
Affinity. I wanted a fast clock, and it gave me a ton of sideboard options because it can produce all five colors of mana.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
Take Deglamer out of the sideboard. I didn't side it in at all, and Whipflare would have helped against Melissa DeTora's tokens.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played against this weekend?

There was an Ajani Vengeant in Josh Utter-Leyton's Jund deck, which was weird.

Bryan De La Torre

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Matt Ferrando

Age: 22
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Occupation: Game Developer for 5th Planet Games

Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Converting Ben Friedman to a carnivore. Awarded most likely to lose a win-and-in.

What deck did you play and why did you choose to play it?
GWB Junk. Liliana seemed too good not to play.

What changes would you make, if any, to the deck you played?
A better person playing it. Other than that, the deck is immaculate.

What was the most interesting deck/card you played agaisnt this weekend?

Knight of the Reliquary (special thanks to Birds of Paradise)

Matt Ferrando

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Quarterfinals - Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control) vs. Bryan De La Torre (Robots)

by Ben Schwarz

UWR Control is one of the big decks of this tournament. Though it's susceptible to larger control decks, such decks seem to have trouble consistently beating the fastest aggressive decks in the format. So although UWR auto-loses to Gifts Ungiven , it's much more common that players like Sammy Tukeman run into aggressive deck after aggressive deck and run them into the ground.

Enter Bryan De La Torre. De La Torre's Robots list has been good enough to get him into his first Grand Prix Top 8. However, now he was facing a deck that, with a decent draw could blow his robot boat out of the water. With a couple strong draws, De La Torre can sweep games out from under these control decks ( Etched Champion is a thorn in everyone's side), but he'd have to keep the pressure coming. If his deck can give him two games of the first-turn hand drop that makes Robots so famous, and he can avoid mass removal, De La Torre just might be able to make it to the semifinals.

De La Torre won the roll. “I'm going to play.”

“Are you sure?” Tukeman inquired.


Sick mindgames, dudes!

Game 1

“Wow, only two cards cast on the first turn?!” Tukeman asked. Signal Pest and an Inkmoth Nexus were the first plays out of Bryan De La Torre's deck.

“I know. I'll make up for it.” He cast a Cranial Plating , two Springleaf Drum , another Signal Pest , and equipped and attacked with the first one. It was an impressive looking main phase, but Tukeman cast a Lightning Helix and all of De La Torre's blustery hoopla was for naught.

Tukeman again just laid a land for his turn and passed back to De La Torre's artifact sortie. The Robots deck animated the Inkmoth Nexus and equipped the Plating. An Electrolyze took out both it and the second Signal Pest . Tukeman was completely in the driver's seat.

It was his fifth turn and he had 23 life and an untapped Celestial Colonnade . The Robots deck can certainly explode, but it's hard to come back from this position against such a controlling deck. Tukeman could simply counter what he wanted to and let through what he didn't. He was playing draw-go and passing with six and seven mana available on any given turn.

After countering Etched Champion and an Arcbound Ravager , Tukeman started to plink away and brought De La Torre to 12. Tukeman himself was at 19. Everything had its answer—a second Etched Champion hit a Wrath of God , another Nexus was taken out by Electrolyze .

Slowly but surely, the 4/4 animating land did his job and destroyed Bryan De La Torre before he could wrench anything back in his favor.

Sammy Tukeman 1 – 0 Bryan De La Torre

Game 2

Blinkmoth Nexus , Signal Pest , Memnite , Ornithopter . A little stronger first-turn play for sure. With the little bits facing down a mere Island , they rumbled in and took Tukeman to 17. De La Torre declined to play another land and cast another Signal Pest . Torre laid a Stony Silence with his turn, but it looked like the damage might have already been done—De La Torre attacked for 7 more and laid a third Signal Pest . Tukeman went to 10. He had all those Signal Pest s in his opening hand, by the way.

The next turn Tukeman used an Electrolyze to snuff out two of the Pests before they could destroy him, but he still sunk to 6. When he got the turn back he had three land, only representing one White. When he laid a Tectonic Edge , De La Torre said, “That's not Wrath mana.” He smiled.

Tukeman sighed and said, “No it isn't.” But he had a “ Wrath -for-one-less-that-cantrips” in another Electrolyze . He burnt away the last Signal Pest and the freshly laid Vault Skirge , and only went down to 5— Memnite the only attacking creature.

De La Torre looked to be out of gas and right on cue, Tukeman was ready to punish him for it. Within two turns he had a Batterskull and two Spellskite s on the field. Combined with the Stony Silence , Tukeman was playing like he wasn't afraid of anything. And why should he be? In subsequent turns he went up to 9, then 13, then completely out of reach. During this time De La Torre's blockers slowly disappeared; his life total going along with it.

De La Torre extended his hand, and in two short games, De La Torre's Top 8 life had been extinguished.

Sammy Tukeman 2 – 0 Bryan De La Torre

Quarterfinals - Eric Froehlich (Jund) vs. Matt Ferrando (GWB Junk)

by Mike Rosenberg

Eric Froehlich has been on a tear the past few weeks. After a Pro Tour Gatecrash Top 4 finish, he has followed that up with a solid showing here at Grand Prix San Diego with with A-Jund-I, the four-color deck using powerhouse cards from the Jund deck alongside red-white planeswalker Ajani Vengeant . Today, he's locked up Platinum status, putting him in a great position for next season, as he hopes to race Brian Kibler for a slot in this summer's 2013 World Championship.

But if he wants to lock up a Grand Prix title today, he's going to need to get through Matt Ferrando. Ferrando made the trek from New York since he loves San Diego, and he wannted to play in the Grand Prix. That enthusiasm led him into a the Top 8 of the Grand Prix with his Junk deck.

The two players quietly studied each other's decklists as they shuffled up and prepared for their first Top 8 match.

Game 1

Both players kept, and Froehlich led off with Blackcleave Cliffs . Ferrando cracked Verdant Catacombs for Temple Garden , going to 17, and led with a Birds of Paradise . Froehlich shot it down with Lightning Bolt at the end of the turn, as Ferrando was left without any second-turn plays.

Froehlich unloaded his first threat with Lingering Souls , making two fliers, while Ferrando went to 15 and played his own copy of the sorcery. The fliers traded blows on Froehlich's fourth turn, and Froehlich followed with a flashback on his Lingering Souls and Tarmogoyf . Ferrando flashed back as well, but had no fourth land as he passed back to the ChannelFireball player.

Froehhlich wasted no time in playing his second Lingering Souls before attacking. Ferrando traded one spirit token for one of Froehlich's, while another jumped in front of Tarmogoyf . Ferrando used Path to Exile on the token blocking Froehlich's Tarmogoyf o find a Forest , as he fell to 14. Froehlich followed with an untapped Blood Crypt and flashed back Lingering Souls .

Thoughtseize from Ferrando left Froehlich without a Lightning Bolt , and Knight of the Reliquary gave him a 3/3 creature. However, Froehlich's top-decked Abrupt Decay left him without a creature and without time, as he picked things up for the next game.

Froehlich 1 - Ferrando 0

Game 2

Ferrando led with an untapped Overgrown Tomb and Birds of Paradise, while Froehlich played a tapped Raging Ravine . Thoughtseize from Ferrando revealed a spicy hand of Dark Confidant , Liliana of the Veil , Lingering Souls, Batterskull , and three lands from Froehlich. Ferrando discarded Froehlich's Dark Confidant and then played his own copy of the creature. Froehlich played a land and passed, as Ferrando's Dark Confidant found another copy of he powerful black creature. Ferrando attacked and played out his second Confidant and a Tarmogoyf . He passed at 13, but with a commanding presence.

Froehlich calmly untapped and cast Lingering Souls , as Dark Confidant s flipped up another Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf . He fell to 9, but Sword of War and Peace gave him a way to offset the life loss, while putting Froehlich on a one-turn clock. Froehlich made some blocks, but when his draw-step yielded nothing, he had enough as both players prepared for the final game.

Froehlich 1 - Ferrando 1

Game 3

Ferrando broke the streak of no mullligans in this match, as he went to six after Froehlich was content with his seven. Froehlich led with Raging Ravine , while Ferrando had Thoughtseize off of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth . Froehlich lost his Dark Confidant and was left with two Path to Exile s, Thundermaw Hellkite , and lands.

But then Froehlich drew and played another Dark Confidant , as Ferrando grimaced. Ferrando played his own Dark Confidant and passed, as Froehlich revealed Olivia Voldaren . He attacked and played Tarmogoyf and passed at 16 life. Ferrando untapped and cast Liliana of the Veil , causing Froehlich to sacrifice his Tarmogoyf . Froehlich drew Liliana of the Veil with Dark Confidant on his fourth turn, going to 13. He went to 10 off of a fetchland into Godless Shrine , using Path to Exile on Ferrando's creature. Liliana went down to Dark Confidant ‘s attack, and Froehlich's own copy of the planeswalker came down post combat.

Ferrando had some decisions to make. He thought for a minute before playing his fifth land and casting Deathrite Shaman and Lingering Souls , passing back with a board resilient to Liliana (as Froehlich discarded Thundermaw Hellkite on the last turn). Froehlich revealed his first land off of Dark Confidant , and simply cast Olivia Voldaren before passing it back.

Ferrando looked over his options, and cast Tarmogoyf followed by Inquisition of Kozilek , discarding Path to Exile but leaving Froehlich with a second Thundermaw Hellkite . Without enough mana to flash back Lingering Souls , he passed with Deathrite Shaman held back on “remove an instant” duty.

Froehlich's Dark Confidant revealed Ajani Vengeant , which came down and shot Deathrite Shaman off of the board, bringing him to 7 after Deathrite got rid of a Path to Exile from Froehlich's graveyard. He passed back with his creatures available to block, as Ferrando had a Stirring Wildwood to wake up and some attacks to make.

Ferrando untapped, woke up Stirring Wildwood , and sent the Lingering Souls tokens at Ajani and the Goyf and land at Liliana. Ajani bit the dust, a spirit token from Ferrando went down, Dark Confidant jumped in fronot of Tarmogoyf , and Liliana went to 1 loyalty.

Froehlich untapped, played a land, and then dropped Thundermaw Hellkite to clear away Ferrando's remaining token. He passed with his giant fliers ready to block Ferrando's very large Tarmogoyf and Stirring Wildwood .

Ferrando thought about attacks, and ultimately decided to send the 5/6 Tarmogoyf at Froehlich rather than Liliana, which ticked up to 2 loyalty on the previous turn. Froehlich threw Thundermaw Hellkite in the way, and Ferrando followed with a flashed back Lingering Souls and Deathrite Shaman.

Froehlich untapped and looked at what Olivia could do. He opted to shoot down the Lingering Souls tokens, as Lightning Bolt disposed of Deathrite Shaman, and Liliana forced Ferrando to sacrifice his Stirring Wildwood in order to save Tarmogoyf . Olivia attacked Ferrando to 8, and he passed.

Ferrando drew, but with no way to finish Froehlich off and no way to dispose of Olivia, he offered the handshake.

Eric Froehlich wins 2-1 and advances to the Semifinals!

Quarterfinals - David Sharfman (Scapeshift) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (Jund)

by Mike Rosenberg

Ken Yukuhiro has traveled a long way to reach the Top 8 of Grand Prix San Diego. In addition to the fifteen rounds of hard-fought play, he had to travel the width of an ocean. The last time I saw Yukuhiro was in Yokohama a couple of weeks ago, where he was fighting off a terrible illness. Now recovered, he came to San Diego in search of more points to fuel his push for Gold. His first opponent in the Top 8 is David Sharfman, who is pushing for a chance to reach Gold as well, only four points behind Yukuhiro.

This matchup is one that is fairly uncommon in Modern these days, with Yukuhiro's Zoo deck falling out of favor in recent months. Still, feeling he had a strong matchup against the midrange Junk and Jund decks that filled the field, he chose to resurrect the archetype for a run at the title. Sharfman's Scapeshift deck is one of the slower combo decks in the field, often taking until turn six or seven to finally assemble the cards needed to end the game. Despite that, it still has enough defensive capability to withstand onslaughts like those Yukuhiro's deck is capable of producing.

Sharfman began with his deck's main threat: Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle . Yukuhiro saved him the trouble of one trigger by sacrificing a Scalding Tarn to put a Stomping Ground into play untapped, allowing him to cast a Deathrite Shaman. Sharfman played a mana accelerate of his own, using Farseek to give him his third land.

Yukuhiro was very deliberate on his turns. He could afford no missteps against Sharfman's explosive Scapeshift deck. He decided to play and crack an Arid Mesa , grabbing a Godless Shrine that also came into play untapped. This put him at an early 14 life. Curiously, he just passed the turn after putting the land into play untapped. When Sharfman simply added a land to his side and passed the turn, Yukuhiro aimed a Lightning Bolt at his head. Deathrite Shaman also got a single activation in before dying to an Izzet Charm .

Yukuhiro untapped and bolted himself yet again, fetching up a Steam Vents to gain access to all five colors. This allowed him to aim a Tribal Flames at Sharfman's head, dropping him to 10. An attempt at a Lightning Bolt resulted in a Snapcaster Mage , returning an Izzet Charm to counter it. Yukuhiro untapped, added another shock land to the board untapped, and made an Elspeth, Knight-Errant . Elspeth made a 1/1 Soldier, and Yukuhiro passed the turn.

Keeping up the defense, Sharfman used a Firespout to clear away Yukuhiro's lone token. He was worried about potentially dying to a pump spell or burn spell. All he needed to do was extend the game until he could go off, so buying every turn he could was crucial. When Yukuhiro simply made another token on his turn and passed it back, Sharfman found himself without an answer to the creature. He dug for something with a Peer into Depths, finding a second vopy of the spell, but no kill for either Yukuhiro or the Soldier.

Yukuhiro gave his token +3/+3 and flying with Elspeth and attacked. Sharfman used his other Peer Through Depths to find something, but was greeted by a Cryptic Command that he was unable to cast. He had to take the damage. Yukuhiro added five to the total with a Might of Alara , dropping Sharfman to 1. He revealed his last card, a Lightning Helix , and Sharfman found himself dead to the exact play he tried to prevent.

David Sharfman 0 - Ken Yukuhiro 1

Sharfman was on the play again for the second game, this time looking to set up a better defensive front against Yukuhiro's aggressive deck. He was forced to throw his first hand back, and his second as well.

Yukuhiro was the first on the board, adding a Noble Hierarch to his side on the first turn. Sharfman's five card hand held a Sakura-Tribe Elder , very strong in this matchup, and it kept Yukuhiro's creature at bay. When Yukuhiro flashed in an Aven Mindcensor at the end of Sharfman's turn, he immediately sacrificed his Elder to get the full search. The Mindcensor began to attack, dealing 3 thanks to the Hierarch's exalted trigger. After combat, Yukuhiro looked to pile things on, adding a Geist of Saint Traft to his side.

That was exactly the over-extension Sharfman hoped to see, as a Firespout completely cleared the board away. Yukuhiro found another Noble Hierarch , who began attacking for one a turn, but he had no other offense. When a Lightning Bolt killed it a turn later, Yukuhiro was left with no board presence. Yukuhiro had to get his damage in somehow, and he began aiming Lightning Bolt s at Sharfman's head. When he tried for a Lightning Helix , Sharfman countered with Cryptic Command , drawing a card in the process.

Yukuhiro had Sharfman to 12, and a pair of Tribal Flames with full domain reduced that to 2. With only lands remaining in his hand, Yukuiro passed the turn back. Sharfman drew his card and passed the turn, expecting to be dead. But all Yukuhiro held was a Noble Hierarch . Sharfman, who was despondent about having to mulligan to five (“This is the only mulligan to five I've taken all tournament.”), perked up immensely when he found his sixth land, slamming it onto the table right alongside a Wurmcoil Engine . All he needed was one more draw step to go his way and he would be able to stabilize. Yukuhiro slid the top card of his library onto his hand blindly, picking the cards up and slowly, agonizingly, spreading them apart. When he slumped and played a land, Sharfman cheered. He got to untap, attack himself back up to 8, and play another Wurmcoil Engine . Yukuhiro went through the courtesy of drawing one more card before conceding the game.

David Sharfman 1 - Ken Yukuhiro 1

Despite a mulligan to five, Sharfman was able to

Yukuhiro started the final game of the match without a first-turn play. In fact, the first contribution to the board came on turn three, when Yukuhiro made a Geist of Saint Traft , presenting a very fast clock to Sharfman. Respecting the power of the old man and his Angel, Sharfman wasted no time clearing him away with Firespout . A second took its place, once again staring Sharfman down.

This time, rather than clear the board, Sharfman made an Obstinate Baloth to block with. When Yukuhiro used Tribal Flames to clear it away, he found a clear path to drop Sharfman to 16. His next attack was foiled by Cryptic Command , tapping the board and drawing a card. Yukuhiro added a Tarmogoyf to his squad and passed the turn to Sharfman.

Sharfman was facing 12 damage and was sitting at 16. Considering the contents of Yukuhiro's deck, that was not a safe life total at all. A single swing could turn lethal, just as it had in the first game. He went into the tank, eventually deciding on casting a Wurmcoil Engine and hoping for hte best. Yukuhiro merely flashed in an Aven Mindcensor , untapped to add a Noble Hierarch to his team, and sent for 3 in the air.

Sharfman found himseld able to untap with a Wurmcoil Engine in play. He had six lands in play, but only one green mana. He tapped and untapped lands a few times while he was thinking before aiming an Izzet Charm at Yukuhiro's Mindcensor. This allowed him to freely search his library with a Farseek , grabbing a Breeding Pool . Now he had the second green mana for a potential Scapeshift , but he still had to survive the next turn.

Fortunately for him, Yukuhiro had no way to kill him on that turn. All he could do was pass the turn right back to Sharfman. Seven lands tapped, and Scapeshift hit the table, URR still floating. Yukuhiro tried to flash in an Aven Mindcensor to stop him, but one of the red mana in Sharfman's pool went towards a Lightning Bolt , giving him free search of his library. Yukuhiro knew he was beat and shook Sharfman's hand.

Despite losing, Yukuhiro was still smiling.

“Four Grand Prix Top 8s: One time winner, one time finals, one time lose in second round, now lose in first round. Collection complete!”

David Sharfman 2 - Ken Yukuhiro 1

Semifinals - David Sharfman (Scapeshift) vs. Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control)

by Mike Rosenberg

David Sharfman, Pro Tour mainstay and champion of Scapeshift , has been playing the four mana sorcery and lots of Mountain lands in other Modern Grand Prix events. This weekend, he has taken it farther than he has before, and is hoping to earn Scapeshift its first major victory since Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle was introduced into the Modern metagame back in September.

His opponent, Sammy Tukeman, has multiple reasons to be happy. Not only is he the last remaining San Diego native playing in the tournament, but his appearance in the Semifinals also guarantees him an appearance at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze, which is taking place in his hometown in May. Will he best his Scapeshift opponent with a deck full of countermagic, or will the Pro Tour veteran find the window to go off?

Game 1

Sharfman's first action of the game was Sakura-Tribe Elder on the second turn, which promptly ate a Spell Snare from Tukeman. The game quickly settled down into draw-go, with an end-of-turn Electrolyze from Tukeman on the fourth turn met Remand from Sharfman. Players continued hitting their land drops, with Tukeman sitting on a Tectonic Edge . Sharfman suspended Search for Tomorrow , and Electrolyze at the end of Sharfman's fifth turn met Snapcaster Mage into Remand .

Tukeman had no fifth land, instead casting Ajani Vengeant to shoot down Snapcaster Mage . WIth a window open, Sharfman hard-casted Search for Tomorrow and Farseek , along with Lightning Bolt to finish off Ajani Vengeant .

Still stuck on four lands, Tukeman passed with four open, as Sharfman's suspended Search for Tomorrow let Sharfman build his land count up to eight in play. He then went into the tank. Was it okay to go for it? Tukeman definitely had action, but what kind? He opted to pass, as Tukeman used Electrolyze to dig. He found a Celestial Colonnade for his fifth land, and passed again with no action, and fear of tapping out against his Scapeshift opponent.

Sharfman thought long before deciding to play his Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle , as Tukeman began to throw more burn at Sharfman's face. Lightning Helix at the end of the turn dropped him to 13. He played a sixth land and passed, and Sharfman went for it. He cast Scapeshift with four blue floating, and Tukeman responded with Cryptic Command to counter and draw. It resolved, but a second Scapeshift resolved. Tukeman had Tectonic Edge to destroy the Valakut in play, so he wasn't dead, as Valakut and six “ Mountain s” in the form of Stomping Ground s and Steam Vents shot Tukeman for 18, bringing him to 6.

Tukeman quickly untapped and used Snapcaster Mage , accidentally saying Electrolyze instead of Lightning Helix . Annoyed by his choice, he used it anyway, drawing a card. Sharfman did not have a Mountain and a Lightning Bolt to finish things up, or even a Mountain for Valakut . Snapcaster Mage for Lightning Helix came down, but the flashed back Helix was Remand ed to the exiled zone.

However, Snapcaster beatdown was doing its job. Sharfman drew, trying to find ways to get the last points of damage in, but it was to no avail. The Snapcasters pressed on, one falling to a Sakura-Tribe Elder along the way, but when Sharfman fell to 1, Tukeman had an Electrolyze to finish the job.

Sharfman 0 - Tukeman 1

Game 2

Both players were not content with their seven cards hand, finding something better after a mulligan. Sharfman's first play with Farseek met no resistance, while Tukeman sought to build up lands for a Sphinx's Revelation. Sharfman was content to take his time, as he also built up lands and suspended Search for Tomorrow on the fifth turn. Tukeman fired off a Lightning Helix when he had a chance to bring his life total up, requiring Sharfman to work harder if he wanted to kill with a Scapeshift .

Tukeman continued to play lands, but Tukeman's Tectonic Edge loomed if Sharfman naturally found a Valakut, and he was nearing Sharfman in the number of lands in play. Sphinx's Revelation for three met Remand , and on the next turn it was stopped permanently by Dispel . With six lands in play, Tukeman's land draws dried up as he passed with six open for multiple turns. However, with his hand stacked full of countermagic, including Counterflux , he was in a good position.

Sharfman continued to play lands as he found them, but when Tukeman used the Tectonic Edge on Sharfman's sole Stomping Ground s, danger loomed. Tukeman followed with Surgical Extraction on the Stomping Ground s, and Sharfman responded with...a concession.

After the mach, the two discussed Sharfman's Mountain count. It's hairy, but necessary to maximize what the deck can do with all of its mana. When you make concessions for powerful combos, sometimes it leads to unconventional but successful paths to victory when you find the right crack in the armor.

Sammy Tukeman wins 2-0 and advances to the Finals!

Semifinals - Eric Froehlich (A-Jund-i) vs. Nathan Holiday (Eggs)

by Marc Calderaro

Head Judge Jared Sylva approached Eric Froehlich as he approached his match-up against Nathan Holiday's Eggs. Sylva said, “Eric I'll offer you the same ‘F6' button I gave Brian Kibler in the last round.”

“I don't plan on letting it get that far,” Froehlich replied. “But do we have chess clocks?” He got a chuckle from everyone, but we could tell Eric was fairly serious about it. Sometimes a long day of Eggs matches can feel like a long day indeed. Holiday's Eggs were still standing (it must be the equinox), but if Ajani Vengeant and friends could somehow grab a foothold, Froehlich would try to keep the match in his reach.

The two shuffled up and readied their decks. Froehlich's playing the four-color “A-Jund-i” deck that hast enough disruption and speed to get there. But Eggs is notoriously resilient to disruption since it most of its combo is being drawn off the top of the deck anyway.

Game 1

Eric Froehlich won the roll and opened with a Blood Crypt into a Deathrite Shaman . Holiday's hand was a bit scarier, as he started by suspending two Lotus Bloom and laying Chromatic Star plus Island . His hand contained another two lands, a Faith's Reward , a Second Sunrise , and a Gitaxian Probe . Froehlich powered out a second-turn Liliana of the Veil and immediately began eating cards from Holiday's hand. Holiday ditched an Island .

The Gitaxian Probe from Holiday revealed a Thoughtseize , Dark Confidant , and a Verdant Catacombs . Holiday laid a second Chromatic Star , and looked at the two suspend counters remaining on the Blooms before passing the turn back.

Thoughtseize nabbed a Second Sunrise and revealed the Faith's Reward . Froehlich ticked up Liliana of the Veil discarding his last card and dejectedly gave the turn back to Holiday. It was unlikely he could stop Holiday from attempting to combo off with two Lotus Bloom s in play. And it didn't help that on his fourth-turn draw step, the Eggs pilot pulled another Second Sunrise . There were, however, precious few Eggs to work with.

He started going off, sacrificing three Chromatic Star s and filtering a Lotus Bloom away with a drawn Serum Visions . Though he was able to find a couple more eggs, he also hit a few non-relevant lands in the process. EFro monitored the happenings to see if a timely Deathrite Shaman trigger could help. He watched intently as Holiday, clearly familiar with the deck, worked through all his options.

He had drawn another Second Sunrise , but no Ghost Quarter or fetchland. He had, however, found a Conjurer's Bauble —the card that makes the whole deck possible. With that, putting a Second Sunrise on the bottom, he found a Reshape and transformed a boring old Star into a third Lotus Bloom . It was after this iteration that Froehlich thought it was the moment to remove the Second Sunrise as the Bauble tried to put it at the bottom. This might have worked, but Holiday still had another Faith's Reward in his hand, so there was a slight chance of having any effect at all.

Holiday now had a veritable cache of Sleight of Hand s and Serum Visions and voraciously dug. After resolving a flurry of blue spells, a spectator stopped the game. Holiday had treated a Sleight of Hand like a Serum Visions . The judge assessed the situation, resolved game-state problems, then asked if Holiday had any other previous violations. Holiday said he had one, and the judge warned that the next violation could be upgraded to a game loss.

At the point Froehlich put a stop to the madness—it wasn't worth a game loss for his opponent, because the combo was almost surely to prevail. He saw the Faith's Reward and Twincast preemptively on the stack, asked to see Holiday's graveyard, and conceded.

Nathan Holiday 1 – 0 Eric Froehlich

Game 2

Nathan Holiday had to start with a mulligan, but answered Froehlich's Catacombs into Overgrown Tomb with a Ghost Quarter and Chromatic Star . The next turn Elsewhere Flask and Island joined the fray and from the table perspective, it looked like the mulligan never happened.

Froehlich made one of his many sideboard plays with a Fulminator Mage killing the tapped Ghost Quarter . This left Holiday with only one land, and a Serum Visions found nothing of import. This just might be the edge Froehlich needs to get back into this match.

A Thoughtseize on turn four showed two Faith's Reward , Second Sunrise , Reshape , two Leyline of Sanctity , and a Conjurer's Bauble . Froehlich attacked with an Aven Mindcensor and readied another Fulminator Mage for sacrifice. The score was 17-16 in Holiday's favor, but that total doesn't represent who was ahead here. Without another land, and hopefully something basic, Holiday was floating in a boat with no engine, lost at sea.

He sacrificed a Conjurer's Bauble putting nothing on the bottom of his library, found a Ghost Quarter and suspended a fourth-turn Lotus Bloom , readying for action on turn 8. EFro had no intention of letting the game get that far. On the next attack his Mage and Aven were joined by the Raging Ravine taking Holiday to 9. With a new counter on the Ravine, Froehlich was representing exactly lethal damage. Holiday knew his next turn would be his last.

“Well, let's spin the wheel...” Holiday drew for his turn and started a desperation combo, with only a single Bauble in play. He used Reshape to make his Elsewhere Flask a Lotus Bloom , then killed an Island with Ghost Quarter and started anew. He had plenty of recursion, but very little things of value to recur. Going one at a time was not going to cut the mustard. And he couldn't even use the Ghost Quarter to add lands, because he needed to hit one more to gain enough mana to continue.

“Hell of a combo you have to draw one card.” Froehlich had his elbows on the table and his hands resting on his cheek. He was in the for the long haul. But also pretty confident in a win here—a passive win, but hey, a win's a win.

A couple revolutions later, the Faith's Reward s and Second Sunrise s were exhausted and Holiday had no more mana to spare. He had to throw in the towel.

Eric Froehlich cracked a smile, “It was fun while it lasted.”

Nathan Holiday 1 – 1 Eric Froehlich

Game 3

Holiday drew like a champion. He suspended two Lotus Bloom s on his first turn, again, then followed it up by laying some Egger-onis. He made a slight mistake by sacrificing a fetchland on his second turn. If Froehlich had Stony Silence , a cog would have been stranded in play, unable to help dig for an Echoing Truth . But no enchantment appeared and so Holiday would be able to try his combo unencumbered.

By turn four, with the Blooms resolving, he had amassed two Chromatic Sphere s and an Elsewhere Flask . With two Sunrise effects in his hand, a Reshape and a Pyrite Spellbomb sitting idly by, Holiday was ready like clockwork to go off on turn four. It would take some bad draws and some serious stifling cards from Froehlich to stop Holiday.

And since at this point I'm pretty sure we know what Eggs looks like going off. And because you can watch it on camera, instead of following the play-by-play, I'm going to start retyping from memory The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. I hope I don't mess it up. I'm not going to do the Italian epigraph quote from Dante's Inferno.

Let us go then you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go through half-deserted streets
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells:

Checking back on the game, with six eggs including a Pyrite Spellbomb on the table, Froehlich responded to a Reshape by flashing in his Aven Mindcensor . Holiday— knowing this was a possibility and having the luxury to play around it—had wisely left mana enough to use an Echoing Truth to bounce the Aven. He fetched the second Lotus Bloom and continued to go off unobstructed.

Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make out visit.

In the room the Baubles come and go,
spelling death for our EFro.

“I'm going to start playing face up because it's easier for me.” Holiday dropped his hand onto the table. It was a good-looking hand.

“How many white cards do you have?” Froehlich asked. Holiday showed him three more Sunrise effects ready to go.

Froehlich extended his hand. Nathan Holiday is going to his first Grand Prix finals!

Nathan Holiday 2 – 1 Eric Froehlich

Finals - Sammy Tukeman (UWR Control) vs. Nathan Holiday (Eggs)

by Nate Price

Grand Prix San Diego has proven to be the epitome of diversity. Over the weekend, we saw dozens of viable decks battling over fifteen rounds of Swiss. We saw a Top 8 that featured a Japanese Grand Prix Winner, a Hall-of-Famer, two Pro Tour Winners, and Matt Ferrando. Yet when time came for the finals, it was two California boys who would be fighting for the trophy.

Sammy Tukeman is a San Diego native being cheered on by a legion of local supporters. His UWR Contol deck is one of the few actual control decks that appear to be viable in Modern right now. Facing him is Nathan Holiday from northern California's Santa Cruz. Holiday is running the new bogeyman of Modern: Eggs. Since Stanislav Cifka's win at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Eggs has been steadily gaining traction. While it may not have been the most popular combo deck in the tournament, it was definitely the most successful.

Holiday began with a Ghost Quarter , Chromatic Star , and Lotus Bloom on his first turn. A Gitaxian Probe on the second turn revealed the following hand:

After taking careful note of the cards in Tukeman's hand, Holiday suspended a second Lotus Bloom and passed the turn. When his first Bloom came off of suspend on the following turn, Tukeman countered it with his Mana Leak . When Holiday drew a land for his turn, he had the window he needed to try and go off. He played his Island , tapped it for a blue, and then killed it with his own Ghost Quarter . The Island he put into play gave him the second blue mana he needed to cast Reshape for zero, sacrificing his Chromatic Star and drawing a card and fetching out a Lotus Bloom .

With the Bloom in play, a Second Sunrise in hand, and a few cards that had already gone to the graveyard this turn, Holiday was able to begin going through the motions. He sacrificed the Bloom for white mana to play Second Sunrise , returning the following cards to play:

His next iteration through allowed him to add a Pyrite Spellbomb and another Lotus Bloom to his cycle. As he continued using Ghost Quarter to effectively add two blue mana to his pool and using his artifacts to churn through his deck, he added more and more artifacts to his side. Eventually, he managed to resolve a Second Sunrise and Twincast it. The glut of cards and mana that the extra copy gave him put him in prime position to finally finish things off. When he played a Reshape to find a Conjurer's Bauble , he was able to begin reintegrating Second Sunrise s into his deck. Tukeman had seen enough.

Sammy Tukeman 0 - Nathan Holiday 1

Tukeman was able to stay on his original seven cards for the second game and was able to start on the play rather than the draw. Despite being on the draw, Holiday was able to set himself up ridiculously quickly. Ghost Quarter , Island , Conjurer's Bauble , and a Pair of Chromatic Star s began the growing collection of knick-knacks on Holiday's side. Holiday started his third turn by sacrificing a Scalding Tarn to fetch out an untapped Hallowed Fountain . When he went for a Silence with Tukeman sitting on three lands, it looked like he was trying to bait open a window. Tukeman countered with Mana Leak and Holiday reached for his counters.

Island tapped for blue just before being eaten by a Ghost Quarter , giving the second Island necessary for Reshape , just as in the first game. Lotus Bloom came down, immediately hitting the graveyard to generate white mana. After sacrificing the other Chromatic Star , Holiday played Second Sunrise . At this point, the following cards were in the rotation:

By the time he cast the next Faith's Reward , the returning pile was:

As he went through the next iteration, he drew card after card without seeing another Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward . He wasn't running out of opportunities to draw cards, but he was running tight on mana. With only a few mana avaiable in his pool, he finally drew into a Second Sunrise . When he sacrificed his Lotus Bloom for white mana, Tukeman knew it was over. Holiday showed him the Sunrise , and Tukeman shook his hand.

Nathan Holiday defeated Sammy Tukeman 2-0 to become the Grand Prix San Diego 2013 Champion!

Top 5 Cards

5.) Lingering Souls

Throughout the Swiss portion of the tournament, there was no deck that could touch the GWB deck known as Junk for popularity. It was absolutely everywhere, ending up with more decks in Day 2 of the Grand Prix than any other deck. One of the biggest reasons that so many players opted to play Junk in this post-banning Modern is Lingering Souls . But Junk wasn't the only deck to feature the powerful sorcery. Team Channelfireball's A-Jund-i deck dipped into white for both Lingering Souls and Ajani Vengeant . BW Tokens and Junk Tokens use it as a primary win condition. If a deck could afford both black and white mana, it played Lingering Souls .

The format was perfect for Lingering Souls to be reasonably good. As a virtual roadblock against the aggressive decks in the field, Lingering Souls buys decks enough time to enact their strategies. Against the control and combo decks, Lingering Souls provides a potent offense and a fast clock. And best of all, it works incredibly well with Liliana of the Veil , giving a “free” discard to protect the other cards in hand.

4.) Ajani Vengeant

Where the heck did Ajani Vengeant come from? While the big, angry kitty had seen some play in Standard after his release, Modern was certainly not where I expected to see a four-drop that doesn't immediately win the game making an impact. But with the rise of UWR decks and the recent banning of Bloodbraid Elf , Ajani has found himself a home in Modern.

UWR decks of all flavors are running Ajani as a perfect way to permanently impact the board. While they have to tap mana on their own turns to arrange this, the ability to lock down one permanent every turn is very potent. In addition, the ability to pay four mana, kill a creature, gain some life, and likely soak up some damage is still an incredibly efficient use of the card.

One of the most interesting new homes for Ajani is in Jund. Many of the members of team ChannelFireball, including semifinals competitor Eric Froehlich, brought a variant of Jund that LSV was referring to as A-Jund-i. Dipping into white for Lingering Souls , Ajani Vengeant was an ideal card to fill the now-vacant four-drop slot. While the card isn't a flashy or swingy as Bloodbraid Elf , it does do a wonderful job of teaming up with Liliana to punish combo, control, and midrange players alike. That, and it's, well, legal.

Still, there were many differing opinions about the card amongst the players in the tournament. Finalist Sammy Tukeman named it as the best card this weekend, while Quarterfinalist Bryan De La Torre named it the weirdest. Still, it was clearly a very important part of both Froehlich's semifinals deck and Tukeman's finals deck, earning it a spot in the Top 5 cards of the weekend.

3.) Lightning Bolt

At the beginning of the weekend, we set out to get an idea of what people felt was powerful in this current iteration of Modern. What we found was an overflowing love for a little one-mana instant from Alpha. Numerous players we talked to listed it as one of the best cards in the format, putting it alongside cards like Deathrite Shaman and Thoughtseize . Despite the prevalence of obviously powerful cards like many of the others on this list, Lightning Bolt seemed a bit out of place. It is a simple effect that lacks the ridiculous game-changing power of Scapeshift , the crushing advantage of Lingering Souls , the explosive potential of Reshape , and the ability to lock a game down like Ajani Vengeant . It seems like it should be underpowered if anything.

Yet, in a format filled with aggressive and powerful one-drops, Lightning Bolt has found an integral home on both sides of the fence. It is the weapon of choice to fend off robots, animals, and ghosts for most of the decks in Modern. It's also a powerful way to give aggressive decks enough extra reach to finish games off a turn or two ahead of time. Five different archetypes played the card in the Top 8, and the only decks that didn't either aren't playing red or opted for a more situationally powerful alternative ( Galvanic Blast in Robots). It has done work both keeping players alive and ending games prematurely.

In the Top 8, things were no different. It helped Eric Froehlich get past his quarterfinals opponent by allowing him to efficiently use his mana, removing a Deathrite Shaman and racing with an Olivia Voldaren in his final game. David Sharfman used it to kill an Aven Mindcensor that flashed into play in response to his Scapeshift , allowing him to win his match.

2) Scapeshift

There was talk, not too long ago, about the death of the deck that takes in namesake from this card. But it takes much more than preparation and knowledge of the opponent's deck to keep a one-card combo out of a format. Scapeshift , since its Modern unbanning, has shown that it is about exactly as good as its supposed to be—powerful, but not unbeatable. There were Scapeshift decks at or around the top tables all weekend, and even put David Sharfman into the Semifinals. The deck that's job is to survive until seven land has proven rather resilient and adaptable. The Clutch of the Undercity version swaps stable mana for some versatility, and Ben Stark and Baby Huey's version traded stable mana for an incredible sideboard and a Sphinx's Revelation .

Though the format has added tricks and pitfalls— Aven Mindcensor , Leyline of Sanctity , maindeck Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge —Sharfman and the other green sorcery lovers have shown that if you're a smart, adaptable player, an “Oops, I win” card can still help you to oops, you win.

1) Reshape

“...because two mana Tinker for Black Lotus is a legal play.” - GP Champion Nathan Holiday on why he played Eggs.

There's very little to that quote that requires expounding. Of all the over-the-top antics the Eggs deck can muster, none of it makes the deck hum, no, exist, the way Reshape into Lotus Bloom does. The Darksteel dud—originally designed as a purposefully underpowered Tinker —is pulling another Lion's Eye Diamond , another nerfed card that found a degenerate home. With the printing of the no-cost Lotus Bloom , the interaction between the Bloom and Reshape has proven itself worthy as a Grand Prix– and Pro Tour–winning deck centerpiece. Not to mention, if you're lucky enough to have a Chromatic Star on the field when you cast it, you can even draw an extra card for your troubles.

Sure, suspending Lotus Bloom like you're supposed to can be good, but often the deck needs to combo out on turn three, and there's no way to get the mana necessary to do that without Reshaping into a Bloom or two. Nathan Holiday won both games in the Grand Prix finals on turn three doing just that and ended the consistent undervaluing of this extremely powerful, if a little tedious, Modern deck.

Though the Reshape / Lotus Bloom interaction is yet to make a splash outside this archetype, it's overwhelming power and a second tick in the win column is more than enough to make this overlooked sorcery the number one card of the weekend.