The first day of a Grand Prix is always long—especially because you were probably up late testing the night before. Few people can emerge completely intact. But not only can few remain intact physically, fewer records reflect it too. Out of 1,098 players, only seven remain at the coveted 8-0 going into the last round. I took a quick walk around the top tables to see what was going on.
Miguel Sumulong (Wilt-Leaf Abzan) vs. Matthew Dilks (Affinity)
Matthew Dilks brought along his robot friends from Toronto. He only started playing competitively recently, and is more than excited to make his first Day 2, and even potentially go 9-0. He had to face down Miguel Sumulong and his Wilt-Leaf Abzan deck. Sumulong had flown here from Anchorage, Alaska and wanted to show this Canadian what for.
Matthew Dilks and Miguel Sumulong
And boy did he. In both games, Sumulong took to the skies with pumped Lingering Souls tokens to get there. Dilks was only able to deploy one threat at a time, so Sumulong removed each threat as he could, before his Spirits filled the skies.
When a Vault Skirge equipped with a Cranial Plating is staying home to chump block, you know you’ve got a problem. That’s exactly what happened to Dilks in both times. Miguel Sumulong finishes Day 1 at 9-0.
Sebastian Denno (Infect) vs. Robbie Schmidt (Affinity)
This was the only Canadian-on-Canadian undefeated match. Sebastian Denno was defending his home turf of Vancouver from the invader, Calgary’s Robbie Schmidt. But much to Denno’s chagrin, Schmidt was able to take the match from him.
Though Denno was able to win the first game off a mulligan to six, games two and three were a different story. In game two, a mis-stacked Nature’s Claim allowed Schmitt the opportunity to Dispel it, crippling Denno’s gameplan.
Then in the third game, Denno just mulliganed into oblivion. Though a crushing match for Denno, he still goes into tomorrow at 8-1.
Schmidt acted nonchalant with me, talking about the match. But once he left the feature match area, he had a huge hug waiting for him and a gigantic smile fell across his face. He was one of the 9-0s.
Dan Lanthier (Splinter Twin) vs. Dakota Reasbeck (Burn)
“This deck is unreal for this tournament,” were the parting words from Dan Lanthier as he walked out of his match, winning to go up to 8-0-1. Lanthier hails from Ottawa, and has been Playing against Dakota Reasbeck, he won a quick two games by bottlenecking his opponent’s mana at the right time, then resolving the Splinter Twin with a Spellskite for protection.
Reasbeck and Dan Lanthier, with David Ochoa X-1 in the background
His Canadian compatriot, Pascal Maynard, had the same match-up last round, and lamented how he had to use Grim Lavamancer to eke out a win because he just couldn’t draw any Splinter Twins. But either way, the result was the same—Splinter Twin defeated the very aggressive Burn.
Lanthier then left his match to watch Maynard’s own undefeated match-up in the feature match area. Though Lanthier thinks Maynard’s sideboard is weaker than his own (“He has those Dispels instead of Negates. What is he thinking?”), they are both clearly doing something right.
Pascal Maynard (Splinter Twin) vs. Mark Jacobson (Infect)
Quebec native Pascall Maynard, and Californian Mark Jacobson split the first two games in the feature match area, then had one of the silliest of Game 3s I’ve seen.
Pascal Maynard and Mark Jacobson in front of Robbie Schmidt and Sebastian Denno
Maynard hampered Jacobson quickly with a Blood Moon. This exacerbated the land-heavy draw steps from Jacobson. He just kept drawing Mountain after Mountain.
Maynard had an active Grim Lavamancer, and was able to get Jacobson to 2, but couldn’t get anything into the graveyard to finish the job. It went to a crazy ending, with both drawing off the top of their deck—and getting all the wrong spells at all the wrong times.
It was 2-5 and a Noble Hierarch kept plinking in for 1. Maynard couldn’t kill the 0/1 because of two resolved Wild Defiance. Maynard eventually had to chump block with his on-board win condition. The sad irony was that the Lavamancer became the second card necessary into the graveyard.
“If you rank 10,000 Modern games played, that had to be one of the stupidest.” Jacobson said. “At some point against the Blood Moon deck, you don’t want fifteen land.” The two commiserated and laughed it off. But Jacobson had the better part of the laughter. He was one of the three undefeateds.
After nine rounds, Miguel Sumulong, Robbie Schmidt, and Mark Jacobson are 9-0. Dan Lanthier is 8-0-1.