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News Brief: DreamHack Atlanta PTQ, The Team Series, Arena, and Grand Prix Lille and New Jersey

The week of October 22nd gave us our first look at the new Pro Tour qualifier system, as well as a first taste of Guilds of Ravnica Standard.

Qualify for the Pro Tour at DreamHack Atlanta

Three weeks ago we found out that some third-party tournaments would serve as a path to the Pro Tour. This week we got a glimpse of what that means. In a post to Facebook, Timothy Shields of Cascade Games revealed that the Magic main event at DreamHack Atlanta (a gaming convention) would qualify the winner for the Pro Tour. Players will have to win a qualifier to play in the main event, which will be held on Sunday, November 18th.

Pro Tour Team Series

The rosters for the 2018-19 Pro Tour Team Series were released this week. The 2017-18 Championship team—Ultimate Guard Pro Team—remains unchanged. The runners up are Hareruya Latin and third place finisher ChannelFireball. Hareruya, the Japanese game store run by Tomaharu Saito, is sponsoring five teams this year, including a team based in North America and one based in Belgium.

Arena Updates

The Magic: The Gathering Arena Open Beta rolls on. This week saw two important announcements. The first was the implementation of streamer events. These offerings will include tweaked rule sets and focus on a specific streamer and their style of play, such as the recent Day9TV “no instants” event.

The second announcement was that direct challenges are coming. While no date was given, the feature is anticipated to be coming in November. The mechanics have not been finalized as of yet but they will likely include having to input a friend code to enter the game. These matches will not count toward ladder ranking.

Weekly MTG Updates

The Thursday, October 25th edition of WeeklyMTG on twitch.tv/magic was an unboxing episode. During the broadcast two new items were announced. The first was a test product for Ravnica Allegiance, available in select locations in Japan and North America. The Collector Booster, with an MSRP of $12.99, is geared toward people who want a different pack cracking experience. These packs will contain 15 cards—two premium foils, three rares and/or mythic rares, and 10 uncommons. The only way you can get a common in this product is if they appear in the foil slot. The broadcast wanted to make it clear that this was a test product.

The second announcement was the 2018 holiday card: Bog Humbugs!

Grand Prix Lille and New Jersey

With Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica just under two weeks away, the Pro circuit got its first chance to shine a spotlight on Standard without Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks. Two tournaments occurred with only the Atlantic between them, and the winning decks were also an ocean’s breadth apart.

First up was Grand Prix Lille with 1,339 players vying for the title. The Top 8 had two very familiar faces—World Champion Javier Dominguez on Golgari Midrange and Hall-of-Famer Gabriel Nassif on Mono-Blue Tempo. Dominguez, who did most of his testing on Arena, was playing the most popular deck on Day 2. Golgari Midrange has been the early front-runner in this Standard with the ability to grind out games and access to some fantastic removal.

Dominguez made it to the semifinals before falling to Etienne Busson, who was piloting a mono-red deck with Goblin Chainwhirler. Busson described himself as an aspiring pro, and defeating the World Champion is a great way to make waves.

A better way is by winning the Grand Prix. Up against Hall-of-Famer Nassif in the finals, Busson’s aggressive red deck outpaced Nassif in two games. In the battle of the triple-mana cards from Dominaria, Tempest Djinn couldn’t hold a candle to Goblin Chainwhirler.

Mono-Red Aggro

Etienne Busson

Meanwhile at Grand Prix New Jersey, a different tournament was unfolding. Around 1,200 players came to battle in Standard and just as it was in France, Golgari Midrange proved to be a popular choice. The Top 8, however, looked rather different. The black and green deck was nowhere to be found and instead Jeskai Control was the most popular deck in the elimination rounds with three copies. The Top 8 also featured heavy hitters including Brad Nelson on Boros Angels, Eduardo Sajgalik on Izzet Arclight Phoenix, and Eli Kassis on Jeskai Control.

The finals pitted Nelson against Kassis. Nelson is widely regarded as a top-flight Standard deck builder and is a former Player of the Year. Kassis is no slouch, with several Grand Prix Top 8s to his name. But until Sunday, he had no victories. He punched through, beating Nelson and claiming his first Grand Prix trophy on the back of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Expansion // Explosion.

Jeskai Control

Eli Kassis

Looking Ahead

Next week the Magic world will set its sights on Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Over the course of two weeks there will be a Modern Grand Prix, a Player of the Year playoff, a Hall of Fame induction, and finally, a Pro Tour.  And if that wasn’t enough, next weekend will also play host to Eternal Weekend North America.

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