The tournament, like every Grand Prix, had been full of memorable stories, of exciting matches, of interesting decks doing interesting stuff. The following are our Top 5 picks, the five moments which made Grand Prix Stockholm an event to remember …
5. "The Worst Grand Prix [Player Field] in History!"
That's what Anton Jonsson jokingly called it after he realized he and fellow Hall of Fame member Olle Råde were the only two people in the room with three byes. "Could this be the lowest number of three-bye players at any GP ever?" he asked.
Well, we weren't able to find out for certain by press time. Theoretically, there might have been a time back in the nineties when the Grand Prix circuit was new before anyone had yet earned a bye. But let's discount that. With next week's Pro Tour being in such a remote location and three byes nowadays reserved for Hall of Fame/Platinum/Gold players, Grand Prix Stockholm may indeed have set the record here. (Grand Prix Montreal matched the record later in the day.)
Where were all the three-bye players? Well, there were more than seventy at Grand Prix Sydney …
4. Kayure Patel Earns the Elusive Eighteenth Pro Point
Kayure Patel had been part of the English World Magic Cup team last year and had a pretty succesful season culminating in his victory at Grand Prix Bologna in March. Following that up with a 10-5 record in Paris and a 12-3 record in Barcelona took him to 17 Pro Points and one point away from Silver. That was in April, with multiple European Grand Prix tournaments still remaining in the season.
However, event after event, Patel failed to earn that last elusive point. He even went on a trip halfway around the world to Grand Prix Taipei in his quest. But to no avail. It really came down to this, the final Grand Prix weekend of the season. And it took Patel until Round 14 when all of his hard work and determination finally paid off.
3. Eliott Boussaud Gets His Point Across (the Finish Line)
It wasn't just Englishman Kayure Patel who entered this Grand Prix one point short of his season goal. Frenchman Eliott Boussaud found himself in a very similar position. In fact, the parallels here were remarkable. Both had won a Grand Prix earlier this season and both had accumulated seventeen Pro Points so far. Unlike Patel, however, Boussaud already had six Grand Prix finishes on his point total, so he needed to replace one one-point result with a two-point result. Thus, he had to win eleven matches this weekend.
For a while it looked as if he might get there early. He started 10-1 into the tournament and had drafted an awesome deck. Then disaster struck. Thanks to drawing eleven lands in his first fifteen cards, he lost his feature match in Round 12. To make matters worse, he later reported, "My second draft deck was terrible." But in the very last Swiss round of the very last Grand Prix of the season, at the proverbial eleventh hour, he got that all-important eleventh win.
2. But Wait, There's More! Moure Even!
Then, once the Top 8 had started, we learned that there weren't one or two players who had begun Saturday on seventeen Pro Points. In fact, there were three, as Matteo Moure helpfully pointed out. He himself had been in the exact same spot. Only, overachiever that he is, he got a little more than the one point he was lacking. He made the finals of a Grand Prix for the second time this season, netting a comfortable six extra points.
After clearing that hurdle, Moure was determined to win the whole thing. Unfortunately, his deck didn't cooperate in the finals, forcing him to mulligan four times …
1. Match of the Weekend: Semifinals between van Eeghen and Wahlberg
As such, our pick for the best match of the weekend goes to the semifinals between eventual champion Elmer van Eeghen and Erik Wahlberg. Not only was the match characterized by several awesome blowouts, a Borrowed Malevolence taking down two creatures, for instance, as well as an ambush with the help of Aim High. The course of the first game in particular reversed itself multiple times. Once, when Wahlberg cast Spectral Reserves, gained some crucial extra life, and threatened lethal damage via Reaper of Flight Moonsilver. And then again, when van Eeghen summoned Pack Guardian during the end step of the very same turn, and suddenly threatened lethal damage himself!
Plus, all three games were, in large part, decided by the emergence of large Eldrazi. One came down to Wahlberg's Distended Mindbender (bonus points for making his opponent discard Lashweed Lurker) and the other two van Eeghen won with his Wretched Gryff and Lashweed Lurker. The Eldrazi have emerged!