News Brief: Brawl, Access Magic, and Grand Prix Seattle

In case you haven’t heard, Magic is turning 25 years old this summer. As part of the celebration, there are a number double Grand Prix—three-day events with two tournaments—on the calendar. This past weekend saw the first such event in Seattle, not far from the headquarters of Wizards of the Coast. That lent some flair to the festivities, but there were other events during the week before the cardboard hit the tables on Friday.

Brawl

Brawl is the new multiplayer format being championed by Wizards. Similar to Commander, players build 60-card decks with a legendary creature or planeswalker at the helm. The format follows the Standard-legal card list, which has brought up a small issue. Karn, Scion of Urza is legal as a deck’s leader but due to the rules of the format regarding color identity, finding enough lands seemed impossible. While no official announcement has been made, Mark Rosewater alluded to the fact that a change would be coming to the format rules, so fear not Hope of Ghirapur players!

Brawl will also be coming to Magic Online. The new way to play will be hitting the digital platform on April 18th. There will be an additional announcement from Lee Sharpe on April 11th regarding the format’s introduction.

Access Magic

Another episode of Access Magic was released in anticipation of Dominaria. This video focused on the story around the next set and features interviews with Aaron Forsythe, Kelly Digges, and Allison Luhrs.

Grand Prix Seattle

The Grand Prix circuit made two stops in Seattle this weekend. Friday and Saturday saw a Legacy Grand Prix drawing on the entire history of Magic, while Saturday and Sunday took the tournament to Rivals of Ixalan Standard one last time.

The event felt like a convention. Cosplayers roamed the hall and mingled with Magic pros and card artists alike. Members of Wizards R&D were on site all weekend and jumped into the booth with some regularity to provide insight and commentary for the stream. The nature of the event meant that if a player participated in Day 2 of the Legacy Grand Prix they were not able to test their mettle in Standard—a process to be repeated later this year at the double Grand Prix in Birmingham, England.

Legacy

Over 1,600 players came to Seattle to do battle in Legacy. Legacy is unique among tournament formats in part because you can pick a deck and refine it over time, adding cards only when they shake up your specific archetype. As such, Legacy tournaments can attract people who otherwise may not attend tournaments. The result is a wide variety of decks on display featuring all sorts of unique strategies—Preeminent Captain cheating Palace Jailer into play, Ancient Tomb teaming up with Eldrazi Temple to cast Thought-Knot Seer, and entire decks based around Life from the Loam. Legacy is truly a spectacular place.

Despite all the diversity, only the cream rose to the top in the elimination rounds. The Top 8 featured well-known players such as Noah Walker, Sam Black, Jeremy Dezani, and Steve Rubin. The decks included Lands, Miracles, and multiple 4-color Leovold, Emissary of Trest decks and Grixis Delver decks. In the end, it was two Deathrite Shaman decks in the finals with Jeremy Dezani on 4-Color Control against Daniel Duterte on Grixis Delver. Despite going up against a Pro Tour Champion, the hometown hero Duterte dispatched Dezani in two quick games, using the power of Deathrite Shaman and Insectile Aberration to seal his victory.

Grixis Delver

Daniel Duterte, 1st place at GP Seattle in Legacy

Standard

Dominaria is only a few weeks away, which means that Rivals of Ixalan Standard is soon to be a thing of the past. After a tumultuous year where multiple cards were banned in Standard, the format appears to have reached a state where multiple decks are viable and the metagame is dynamic. With two more sets being added to Standard before Kaladesh block and Amonkhet block take a bow and the fall set joins Ixalan block, Dominaria, and Core 2019.

But that is the future—this weekend, at the Standard portion of Grand Prix Seattle, the format skewed red. Gan Yan from China ran the table by going 15-0 in the Swiss with Mono-Red. Gerry Thompson made the Top 8 with Black-Red Aggro—one of two such decks in the elimination rounds. Mardu Vehicles also made an appearance, as did Sultai Constrictor. The deck of the day, however, placed three copies in the Top 8, and that was Blue-Red God Pharaoh’s Gift.

The blue-red take on God-Pharaoh’s Gift plays differently from Pascal Maynard’s Pro Tour Ixalan finals list. Using Gate to the Afterlife rather than Refurbish, this deck looks to go off with Combat Celebrant and Vizier of Many Faces. Using the Gift to bring back Celebrant and exert it adds an additional combat phase with an additional Gift trigger.

It was only fitting that the blue-red deck made it to the finals in the hands of Grayson Roberts. He was up against Gan Yan, going for the unprecedented 18-0 Grand Prix run. Grayson got the first game by setting up a Combat Celebrant into Vizier of Many Faces into another Combat Celebrant. That sequence earned a scoop from Gan Yan. The tables turned in game 2 as Gan had a copy of Scavenger Grounds to take out Roberts’ graveyard before the Gift pilot could activate Gate to the Afterlife. A few Rekindling Phoenix attacks later and it was on to game 3. In the decisive third game Roberts got off to a stellar start but when Abrade took out Gate to the Afterlife the writing was on the wall. Gan Yan had done it—a perfect 18-0 record at Grand Prix Seattle.

Mono-Red Aggro

Gan Yan, 1st place at GP Seattle in Standard

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