Top Moments of Grand Prix Seattle 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on April 9, 2018

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the podcast Magic the Amateuring and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

GP Seattle ended in spectacular fashion, with Gan Yan making history as the first player with a perfect Grand Prix record. After going 15-0 in the Swiss, Yan hurtled through the Top 8 with his Mono-Red Aggro deck, defeating Grayson Roberts in the finals for a historic finish.

After three days of Magic of every imaginable type, GP Seattle has crowned not one but two Grand Prix champions – one each in Legacy and Standard – and bid goodbye to the thousands of players who walked through the convention hall doors to play a main event, sling spells against their favorite Magic personalities, or meet some of Magic's most iconic Planeswalkers come to life.

Congratulations to GP Seattle champions Daniel Duterte and Gan Yan, and thank you to everyone who played a match or tuned in to catch the action this weekend!

The Standard Finals

The Top 8 players of the Standard Grand Prix were Matthew Dimaggio, Grayson Roberts, Jeremy Frye, Gerry Thompson, Charles Wong, Gan Yan, Slater Claudel, and Andrew Shain. Their decks included Blue-Red God-Pharaoh’s Gift, Black-Red Aggro, Mardu Vehicles, Sultai Constrictor, and Mono-Red Aggro.

The finals of GP Seattle came down to Gan Yan, who was so far undefeated in the tournament, and fifteen-year-old Grayson Roberts. Yan was on the streamlined Mono-Red Aggro deck with four copies of Rekindling Phoenix. Roberts played Blue-Red God-Pharaoh's Gift, the breakout deck of the tournament, with three copies in the Top 8. Roberts was thrilled with his deck choice for the tournament, stating that there were no turn four kills in Standard until this build came along.

In the first game, Roberts’ words proved almost prophetic, as he was able to take three combat steps on turn five, and Yan conceded.

In game two, Yan kept a hand that was light on threats, but had lots of interaction with Roberts’s strategy through Scavenger Grounds and Grasping Dunes. His plan evolved perfectly, as he drew a pair of Rekindling Phoenixes, and killed as many of Roberts’s creatures as he could before exiling Roberts’s graveyard with Scavenger Grounds. It was enough to secure a win, as, unable to get his God-Pharaoh's Gift online, Roberts had to scoop to multiple attacks.

In game three, Yan again kept a hand that had late game power and early interaction, this time in the form of Abrade. He removed Roberts’s first Gate to the Afterlife, but Roberts had a second, but only five creatures in his yard. Yan attacked again and again in the air, keeping Roberts off the six creatures he needed to crack his Gate to the Afterlife by denying him trades on the ground. A Scavenger Grounds on Yan’s side locked up his victory, and Yan became the GP Seattle Standard Champion. His friends and teammates swarmed around him, pulling him into a hug before lifting him into the air.

Day 3 Coverage Highlights

Standard looks to be in a solid place right now, with a whole host of decks battling for spots at the top of the field. From Sultai Constrictor to Blue-Black Control, Mono-Red Aggro to White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift, there’s a lot of flexibility for players looking to finish well.

There’s even room for a few rogue decks to squeeze in amongst these Standard all-stars. Take a look at a few highlights from Sunday’s coverage that focus on the decks that came out of the woodwork this weekend.

God-Pharaoh's Gift Gets an Update

While the overarching archetype of the first deck is familiar, this new blue-red build was one of the breakout decks of the tournament. A pair of one-mana hasty 1/1s and a seven-mana artifact may, at first, seem to have very little in common, at least in the context of a single Standard deck. The newest take on God-Pharaoh's Gift, however, makes use of all three.

Blue-Red God-Pharaoh's Gift relies mainly on Gate to the Afterlife to get its namesake artifact into play, unlike the blue-white build of the deck, which often wants to discard God-Pharaoh’s Gift and then fetch it out of the graveyard with a Refurbish. Bomat Courier and Fanatical Firebrand, the deck’s one-drops, are also easy to get into the graveyard for Gate to the Afterlife.

And that’s not the only low-key combo that makes the deck so sweet. Once God-Pharaoh's Gift is online, the deck closes out the game at lightning speed. Combat Celebrant’s exert ability, which grants another combat step, also grants another God-Pharaoh's Gift trigger. Additional Combat Celebrants or Viziers of Many Faces can quickly spiral out of control, leading to three or four combat steps in a single turn. It turns out that the God-Pharaoh has many gifts to give.

Ghalta Tramples Through Seattle

Variations on decks full of red and green monsters have been stomping around Standard for a while, but Rob Pisano’s deck packed enough dinos to earn it the name of Red-Green Dinos.

Rob Pisano’s Red-Green Dinos – GP Seattle

New Perspectives Goes Off

While the New Perspectives combo deck has fallen out of favor since it first hit Pro Tour Amonkhet, it was still live for the Top 8 at the start of Day 2. Watch it churn through cards while killing the opponent with seemingly endless activations of Faith of the Devoted.

White-Blue Auras Draws So. Many. Cards.

In Round 10, Maria Bartholdi, piloting a Standard version of her favorite Modern deck (Green-White Hexproof), proved that the deck has legs when she drew three cards on turn four.

Deck Building Takes . . . Indomitable Creativity

In Round 12, the feature match played host to one of the most surprising decks of the weekend, sitting, at the time, at 9-2. Andrew Tolson’s Blue-Red Indomitable Creativity build walked a line between combo and control, using counterspells and removal to keep the board clear, and then finishing his opponents off with Indomitable Creativity on his own Treasure tokens to put powerful creatures like Nezahal, Primal Tide, The Locust God, or Torrential Gearhulk into play.

Those Treasure tokens came from some surprising sources, including cards like Depths of Desire and Spell Swindle.

Andrew Tolson’s Blue-Red Indomitable Creativity – GP Seattle

Cosplayers Find Inspiration in Personal Meaning

It seems like at every Magic Grand Prix, the cosplay reaches new stellar heights. At Grand Prix Seattle, the inspiration for two particular cosplays, of many stunning ones, were drawn from personal connection.

For April King (best known as @CubeApril), a new card in the upcoming trip to Dominaria meant an opportunity to cosplay one of the most important cards in Magic’s history.

“When I was 14, Jaya Ballard's flavor text changed Magic from a fun card game into a game that I loved," April tweeted when Jaya Ballard’s new Planeswalker was previewed. “In my late 20s, her Time Spiral card brought me back to Magic. Without Jaya Ballard, I wouldn't be here today. Seeing her grow into a powerful old woman is a dream come true."

Cosplayer MJ Scott had a unique opportunity at GP Seattle – she was able to cosplay a card that, up until Friday morning, no one else knew about yet. Her cosplay for Tetsuko Umezawa was made possible in part by the fact that Scott wrote the flavor text on the card.

“I was really excited about this card because the Umezawa clan is so important in Magic’s history. Tetsuko’s ancestor one time took down Nicol Bolas. Basically the entire Gatewatch just failed at that," Scott said of Tetsuko. “I think that’s a pretty awesome legacy, so it was basically taking a new spin on it, on having a woman representing the clan. We wanted her to be cool, we wanted her to be representative, and I think that, for me, as an Asian-American woman, it meant a lot to me, because she’s a really cool Asian character. And, you know, Umezawa's Jitte is a really powerful card, and so it was really cool that they rebooted this and made it a fresh character."

Hometown Hero Daniel Duterte Takes the Legacy Trophy

On Saturday, the Legacy portion of GP Seattle came down to Daniel Duterte, a hometown hero from Seattle, and Jeremy Dezani, French pro and member of Hareruya. As Duterte carved a path through the Legacy Grand Prix, finishing Day 1 undefeated and sailing into the Top 8 with the second seed, it seemed like all of Seattle was on his side. Tweets of support rolled in, while local players crowded the rail in the feature match area to watch him play.

Duterte and Dezani played two of the defining decks of the Legacy format, featuring two of the defining creatures – Duterte was on Grixis Delver, while Dezani played Sultai Control featuring Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

Ultimately, Duterte defeated Dezani in two games to zero, pressuring Dezani with creatures he couldn't find the answers for fast enough.

Congratulations to Daniel Duterte, GP Seattle Legacy Champion!

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