While we're busy kicking off Grand Prix Shanghai's Booster Draft portion, Orlando began to draw its curtains. 8000 miles away, another wave of Magic players are congregated to celebrate the first two Grand Prix to feature Khans of Tarkir Limited.
Owing to its massive attendance of 2277, Grand Prix Orlando was split into two brackets. Rather than the usual Black or Blue brackets, they were instead thematically named after two representing clans from the plane of Tarkir.
Over at the Jeskai bracket, Ian Farnug, Daniel Reyes and Dominic Ceresani achieved the perfect record and will sleep well knowing their route to the Top 8 will be easier than everyone else's. Ari Lax, Ben Stark, Seth Manfield and many others will be giving the undefeated players a run for their money though. As for the Temur Bracket, Jason Southworth and Gabriel Rogasner were the ones to go 9-0. Tom Ross, Melissa DeTora, Matt Costa, David Sharfman and many others trail closely behind, intent on pulling ahead.
It has been well established over here in Shanghai, as well as in Orlando, that five-color strategies are entirely possible. Getting greedy has its risks, but many rewards too. Around 30 Grand Prix Trials took place in both cities, and it is apparent that Mardu has posted the best win rates. Four color decks are also commonplace both in Shanghai and Orlando. Yet, many mysteries have yet to be solved and only time will tell how players will adapt to the aggressiveness of the Mardu Horde.
Defending Champion of Grand Prix Shanghai and Grand Prix master Yuuya Watanabe sheds some light on this phenomenon. "Players need to be prepared for the fast decks that punish the slow ones. It is important to learn how to sideboard against the Mardu, bring in your Highland Game, Jeskai Student and Wetland Sambar. Leave risky cards like Treasure Cruise in the sideboard, and bring them in only against the slow match-ups." Perhaps, it is greed and complacency that has led to dominance of Mardu across both cities
In Khans of Tarkir's infancy, there is still a trail of mysteries awaiting to be solved. Do we play or draw in Sealed? And how many lands do we play? How high do we pick the multi-colored lands? And how much stability are players willing to sacrifice for raw card power?
As we speak, we are in the final throes of the tournament and will be making the cut to the Top 8 in less than three hours. By the time Grand Prix Shanghai's Champion is crowned, yet another exciting day of heated battle will commence in Orlando.
Head over to the Grand Prix Orlando Official Coverage site where my esteemed colleagues and fellow Magic-lovers, Rich Hagon and Adam Styborski, bring you live updates of this spectacular double GP Weekend!
The action never stops, at least not this weekend.