Highlights of Grand Prix Toronto 2018 (Teams)

Posted in Event Coverage on May 20, 2018

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the Good Luck High Five podcast 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.

On Sunday, fifty of the initial 389 teams that entered GP Toronto returned to the Enercare Centre to finish what they started – namely, trouncing the competition on their way to the Top 4. Six more rounds of Swiss still stood between any team and the Top 4, and it was a perfect storm of Standard, Modern, and Legacy in the event hall.

At the end of those six rounds on Day 2, the four teams that would fight on for the GP Toronto trophy were Morgan McLaughlin, Chris Harabas, and Lucas Siow (the only Day 1 undefeated team), Jennifer Crotts, Tyler Blum, and Robert Smith, Oliver Tiu, Oliver Tomajko, and Noah Walker, and Brad Nelson, Seth Manfield, and Brian Braun-Duin.

Dominaria cards, both expected and unexpected, have cropped up in all three formats, and Standard, in particular, is still in flux after the shake-up of recent tournament results. Below, we've included both breakdowns of deck archetypes in each format, as well as some exciting Dominaria inclusions across the board.

Your GP Toronto Champions!

Local players Morgan McLaughlin, Chris Harabas, and Lucas Siow started the tournament strong, finishing as the only undefeated team on Day 1. The three have been playing together a while, and often referred to themselves as “Team Lucas's Basement," after a group chat they have with other locals and Magic tournament practice in, one would assume, Lucas's basement.

Though they picked up a few losses on Day 2, they never stopped leading the standings. In the Top 4, their task was a daunting one. First, they had to defeat Oliver Tiu, once Rookie of the Year and a Top 4 Worlds competitor, Oliver Tomajko, last year's US national champion, and Noah Walker, who has four GP Top 8s, the most recent in the Seattle Legacy GP.

Not to be stopped, McLaughlin, Harabas, and Siow defeated them and moved on to the finals – where they had to face Brad Nelson, Seth Manfield, and Brian Braun-Duin, two former World Champions and one of the most accomplished players in Standard.

McLaughlin defeated Nelson long before the other two matches were over, then watched as Harabas navigated his Modern games against Manfield. But before he could finish, Siow locked up the Legacy match against Braun-Duin, securing their team the two wins they needed to become the GP Toronto champions. Congratulations to Morgan McLaughlin, Chris Harabas, and Lucas Siow!

Day 2 Archetypes

With the introduction of Dominaria just a few weeks behind us, the set is still rippling the Constructed pond, from Standard to Modern to even Legacy. Below is a breakdown, by format, of the deck archetypes that made Day 2 in Toronto.

Black-Red Vehicles 15
White-Black Vehicles 7
Black-Green Constrictor 7
Mono-Red Aggro 7
Mono-Green Stompy 3
White-Blue Control 3
Blue-Black Midrange 2
Other 7

After last weekend's GP Birmingham results, it's no surprise that Black-Red Vehicles was a popular (and successful) Standard choice in Toronto. Black-Green Constrictor, which looked as though it might be usurped by Mono-Green Stompy, with hallmarks Steel Leaf Champion and Ghalta, Primal Hunger, appears to be holding its own in Standard, and while Black-Red Vehicles has made tracks into the popularity of Mono-Red Aggro, that deck, too, is still a key player.In Standard, “other” included flavors of control like Grixis, Jeskai, and White-Blue Cycling, as well as a copy each of White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift, White-Blue Historic, Mono-Black, and Red-White Midrange.

Humans 13
Affinity 8
GW Hexproof 3
Jeskai Control 3
Krark-Clan Ironworks 3
Black-Red Hollow One 2
Jund 2
Mardu Pyromancer 2
Death's Shadow (Grixis, Jund) 2
Other 13

While the continued rise of Humans, a deck that rose to prominence after the release of Ixalan, is an initial takeaway, it's also noteworthy that Affinity, a deck choice that tends to wax and wane in popularity, appears to be on the upswing again. Matt Nass's recent win with Krark-Clan Ironworks also appears to have led to a significant uptick in the deck's numbers.In Modern, “other” include one copy each of Bant Company, Black-Green Midrange, Burn, Dredge, Elves, Grishoalbrand, Lantern Control, Living End, Merfolk, Mono-Green Tron, Storm, Blue-Black Control, and White-Blue Martyr of Sands.

Grixis Delver 16
Four-Color Control 11
Lands 6
Elves 3
Mono-Red Prison 3
Reanimator 2
Sultai Control 2
Sultai Delver 2
White-Blue Counterbalance 2
Other 4

A Standard Showdown, with Special Guest Corey BurkhartIn Legacy, “other” included one each of Affinity, Eldrazi, Grixis Control, and Temur Delver. Here, Legacy staples like Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Delver of Secrets carried the day.

In Round 12, a showdown between Brad Nelson, who has a literally uncountable number of Standard GP Top 8 finishes, and Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa prompted pro Corey Burkhart to try his hand at written coverage.

“Deep into day two at Grand Prix Toronto, we found two of the best teams in the field with their sights set on the top four. On one side sat Brad Nelson, Seth Manfield, and Brian Braun Duin, on the other, Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, Ben Stark, and Eric Froelich. All of these names are no strangers to the Sunday stage and they're looking to add another notch to their resumes with a Top 4 this weekend.

In the Standard seats, Brad Nelson playing White-Blue Control faced off against Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa playing White-Blue Cycling. Traditionally, this match is a long and grindy affair, with players trading planeswalkers and countermagic for the middle turns of the game while trying to hit their land drops and resolve a key spell that will turn the tide permanently in their favor."

Read the rest of his article here!

Team Karn

Only one team on Day 2 earned the name Team Karn, a title that, to be fair, no one knew they were competing for. Team Karn was the distinguished trio that played Karn, Scion of Urza across all three formats, and the title belongs to John Bauer, Daniel Brouillet, and Zac Elsik, who played the card in Black-Red Vehicles, Affinity, and Mono-Red Prison, respectively.

In Standard, Karn can crew Heart of Kiran, make constructs, and accrue card advantage to help Black-Red push through matches with a lot of removal or bigger creatures than their own. In Modern, where Urza's scion has popped up in Affinity lists, Karn's first job is often to make an enormous construct, and then maybe just do that again.

Daniel Brouillet's Affinity - GP Toronto

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Zak Elsik, perhaps most well known for his win at GP Dallas-Fort Worth that catapulted Lantern Control to Modern prominence, played Karn in his Mono-Red Prison Legacy deck this weekend.

“It defends itself with constructs, it beats with constructs, and it draws what feels like three cards a turn, because you see two plus your draw step, so you find the thing you need to close the game," Elsie said. “It has six loyalty! So, I like it for that reason."

Zak Elsik's Mono-Red Prison— GP Toronto

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Standard Outliers

Though many of the Standard players at GP Toronto opted for the most established archetypes in the format, others went their own route. Below are two decklists from Day 2 that stood apart from the field, attacking the format in novel ways.

Aron Cheong's WU Historic - GP Toronto

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Drew Petkoff's Mono-Black — GP Toronto

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Modern Dominaria

While Karn was the most common inclusion in Modern decks across the tournament, with Teferi coming in a close second, there were a handful of other places that Dominaria's cards appeared throughout the tournament.

There was a bold Affinity player with a copy of The Antiquities War in their main deck, and another with a copy in their sideboard. There were a few midrange or control decks that used a copy of Cast Down as cheap and efficient removal, like the Blue-Black Control list below.

Caleb Keung's Blue-Black Control - GP Toronto

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There was Eduardo Sajgalik's Green-White Elves deck, which in addition to playing the Heritage Druid and Vizier of Remedies combo that became popular after Amonkhet, had one copy of Shalai, Voice of Plenty in the main deck, and another in the sideboard. With four copies of Chord of Calling, one Shalai can go a long way, especially against spot-removal heavy decks like Jund or Jeskai Control.

Eduardo Sajgalik's GW Elves - GP Toronto

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Uh oh, that's all I have time for, I have to take off before Garruk finds out I have her axe!

Cosplay by @erinsartstuff.

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