As we enter the final hours of 2018 and turn the page to a new year, there is one final piece of business that needs attention.
Grand Prix Vancouver
The final Grand Prix of 2018 was also the final Grand Prix to be unattached from a MagicFest. The ultimate event of the calendar year just so happened to feature Ultimate Masters Limited.
With no more Masters sets planned for the foreseeable future, the masses descended on Grand Prix Vancouver to try their hand at what is considered to be one of the best Masters sets for Limited. Ultimate Masters has been a skill testing format that has the potential to befuddle the game’s very best.
The Top 8 did not disappoint. Shuhei Nakamura made his 31st Grand Prix Top 8, putting him one behind fellow Hall-of-Famer Martin Juza. Joining Nakamura in the elimination rounds was another member of the Hall of Fame in Paul Rietzl. Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica champion Andrew Elenbogen—the final Pro Tour champion—continued his hot streak (although he traded his red and white cards for a 4-color behemoth. Jeff Cunningham, a long time Pro Tour competitor, tournament report writer, and Vancouver native, made another Grand Prix Top 8.
But none of them hoisted the trophy at the end of the day. Instead, it was another Vancouver native in Jason Fleurant who claimed the final title of 2018. Fleurant was in his second Grand Prix Top 8, having made it to the Sunday stage ten years ago at Grand Prix Vancouver 2008. Back then he made a quick exit, but on the last Sunday of 2018 he went the distance.
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) December 31, 2018
2019 is mere hours away. The first weekend will give us our first Magic Fest in Oakland with a Modern Grand Prix attached. After that comes Magic Fest Prague—the second and final event to feature Ultimate Masters Limited.
2019 is going to be a year of change in the world of Magic. The esports announcement shows that both tabletop and Magic: the Gathering Arena are going to be major players moving forward. The Magic Professional League means that the words “professional Magic player” will mean something different in the upcoming year. Magic Online will continue to provide a path to professional play—Logan Nettles won the final Magic Online Championship Series tournament this past weekend—and give us all a chance to Cube Draft. But gone are Pro Tours as we say hello the Mythic Championships. Grand Prix still exist, but they will now be part of MagicFests, larger events geared towards a wider population of fans.
There is a lot we do not know yet, specifically with regard to the Magic Professional League and how Grand Prix tournaments will fit into this new structure. The Hall of Fame is getting an overhaul, and one has to wonder what the MPL will mean for Mythic Championships. We’ll find all this out, and more, in the next 365 days.
Happy New Year!