Day One Highlights

Posted in Event Coverage on March 3, 2018

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Some of the world's best competitors traveled to Wizards of the Coast Headquarters in Renton, Washington to face off this weekend for a $40,000 first place prize and the title of Magic Online Champion.

The tournament kicked off with a Booster draft using two packs of Rivals of Ixalan and one pack of Ixalan in that order. Our featured drafter for the day was 2011 Magic Online Champion Reid Duke, and he put on quite a show with the direction his draft took in Pack 2.

It’s not everyday you start blue-red and end up abandoning ship for the one-two punch of Ghalta, Primal Hunger and the extremely powerful Zacama, Primal Calamity.

Unfortunately for Duke, his draft matches did not go as well as he had hoped, as he scraped together a 1-2 following a very interesting draft. Instead, it was fellow former Magic Online Champions Lars dam (2013-14) and Josh Utter-Leyton (2016-17) that had the most success in Booster Draft, both emerging alongside Steve Rubin as the three undefeated drafters.

As play transitioned into Modern, Magic Online Champions began to sink from the top after a smooth start. Utter-Leyton dropped his first two matches, as did Dam, losing to Brandon "sandydogmtg” Burton, as sandydog put on a demonstration of why he’s one of the game’s best Burn players.

In the home stretch, we saw two former Magic Online Champions go head-to-head in Round 6, as 2011 winner Reid Duke faced off against 2012 winner Dmitriy Butakov. While Duke went with the deck he is most known for—a list featuring multiple copies of good ol’ Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil—Butakov broke tradition of playing what he was known for (toolbox decks, like Gifts Ungiven/Unburial Rites) in favor of a metagame call in Bogles.

It served him well, winning him a match against Duke in convincing fashion, and leading him to an interview with avid Bogles fan Maria Bartholdi, in which one of Butakov’s comments led to laughs.

The final round saw Lars Dam—one of the day’s three undefeated drafters—fighting for his first Modern win after losing his first three. After fighting with his back against the wall against Craig Wescoe, a timely few lands and the right sequencing of spells bought him enough time to get an Ancestral Vision off suspend, finding a fourth land for Damnation to stabilize.

Wescoe, aware of what may possibly happen, held back a Burrenton Forge-Tender, then drew into Mirran Crusader. The two creatures ensured lots of protection for the Crusader, at least until a timely Planeswalker made her appearance…

The series of draws and patient, risky play from Dam secured him his first Modern win of the day, bringing him up to 4-3.

However, of the three undefeated drafters from today, it was only Steve Rubin who propelled himself ahead of the rest, finishing first in the field with a 6-1 record. When asked about how confident he was about his choice to play Jund, he said…well, see for yourself.

Rubin’s deck and card choices gave him an edge in the mirror, as Fatal Push provided solid answers against Jund’s most common creatures compared to Lightning Bolt, which in the face of Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze is oftentimes not good enough on its own.

Day One offered plenty of excitement. Will Rubin continue his run into the second day for a Top 4 finish? Who else will we see emerge among the top of the standings? Check back Saturday at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. UTC to find out!

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