We’ve entered the last month of 2018 and it brought quite a bit of news. Ultimate Masters on Magic Online, artists speaking out about MagicFests, and a double Grand Prix in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Artists at MagicFests

An article from Mike Linnemann last Monday included a letter detailing an upcoming boycott of MagicFests in 2019. The signatories, which include Titus Lunter, Daarken, Winona Nelson, and many more, cite the reduction in accommodations in recent years. According to the letter, artists in the past have had the cost of hotel rooms and flights to Grand Prix covered, as well as safe storage of gear and social events with organizers. According to the letter, currently only a few artists have a chance at having their lodging covered and larger tables come with an upcharge. The artists are asking for a way to make travel to these events sustainable and to “ensure that busy artists are properly valued for their time.”

Later in the week, Mashi and Denis from CFBEvents hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on /r/MagicTCG where the question of the boycott came up. In his reply, Mashi described that CFBEvents was only able to accept 60% of artist applicants for the first quarter of 2019. According to the post, the goal of getting numerous artists out to Grand Prix is being achieved and the current system will remain in place for the time being.

This event has sparked discussion from all corners of the Magic community. There are people advocating for increasing the cost for the events to help fund artists, while others wonder if non-main-event participants should pay an entry fee. Despite the response from the hosts of MagicFests, this looks to be a discussion point that will continue to emerge throughout 2019.

Ultimate Masters on Magic Online

Wednesday, November 28th, gave us the details of the final Masters set events for Magic Online. In addition to the events, the Ultimate Box Toppers—full art renditions of 40 cards from Ultimate Masters—will be appearing in the Treasure Chests. Treasure Chests are curated prize packs earned by performing well in events. Also coming to the Chests—all new cards from Commander 2018, as well as the full art planeswalkers from Guilds of Ravnica: Mythic Edition, the arts from Signature Spellbook: Jace, and the new cards from Global Series: Jiang Yanggu & Mu Yanling.

Grand Prix Shizuoka

Legacy and Standard were on display at a double Grand Prix in Shizuoka. In a somewhat fitting turn of events, the Legacy tournament featured some well established names at the top while the Standard Grand Prix had a bevy of newcomers in the Top 8.

The Legacy Grand Prix Shizuoka boasted more than 1,400 players battling in one of Magic’s largest formats. Drawing on cards from the entire history of the game, Legacy features many strategies that cannot exist in other formats with a smaller card pool. The Top 8 showcased a variety of decks, including Mono-Red Prison and Grixis Control. Hall of Famer Kenji Tsumura made the Top 8—his first such finish in 6 years—alongside longtime friend Yuuta Hirosawa. Both Tsumura and Hirosawa were piloting Grixis Control and fell in the Quarterfinals but another Japanese star—Teruya Kakumae of Team Musashi—took home the trophy. Piloting Eldrazi Stompy, Kakumae picked up his third Grand Prix title after defeating Hiroyuki Kaga’s Mono-Red Prison in the Finals.

Eldrazi Stompy

Teruya Kakumae

Meanwhile in the Standard Grand Prix, just under 2,000 players were on hand to vie for their own trophy. There were four different archetypes in the Top 8: Boros Aggro, Selesnya Tokens, Jeskai Control, and Golgari Midrange. The early front-runner for best deck—Golgari Midrange—had another stellar tournament. With four copies in the Top 8, the black and green deck won in the hands of Atsushi Nakashima. Nakashima sealed his victory by using Doom Whisperer to dig to Find // Finality to clear the board of a Selesnya army, spelling certain doom for his opponent Takuya Natsume.

Golgari Midrange

Atsushi Nakashima

Looking Forward

Next week brings Modern to the forefront, with Team Unified Modern in Liverpool and a solo competition in Portland. Ultimate Masters also hits the shelves this week. Then, in two weeks time, the 2017 World Magic Cup kicks off in Barcelona, pitting national teams against each other in Team Sealed and Team Unified Standard.