Last Monday there was no update to the Banned and Restricted list in any format. The lack of changes to Modern had a direct impact on the way two MagicFest Grand Prix played out this weekend.

The Mythic Invitational at PAX East

We are less than two weeks out from the million dollar Mythic Invitational. The tournament will feature 31 of the 32-member of the Magic Pro League—Rei Sato was disinvited after a Grand Prix disqualification—and 25 invited streamers. This left 8 spots up for grabs. These slots went to the Top 8 Constructed mythic ranked players on Arena during the month of February. On March 13th, we found out who earned these final eight slots.

Rounding out the 64 players of the Mythic Invitational are:

  • Thiago Saporito
  • Zachary Kiihne
  • Taiju Sugiyama
  • Teruya Kakumae
  • Lucas Faley
  • Edoardo Annunziata
  • Ondřej Stráský
  • Beatriz Grancha

These players will join 56 others in Duo Standard as they vie for victory at the first Mythic Invitational at PAX East, March 28-31. The Invitational is presented by the OMEN line of gaming computers from HP.

Wizards Play Network Updates

If there has been one constant over the past several years it has been that Magic is growing. Year after year, the game continues to be a success. As such, it has started to outgrow some of the structures that helped it get to this point. The Wizards Play Network is one such structure. Designed over ten years ago to help stores run Magic events, it is getting an overhaul.

An article from Nelson Brown detailed many of these changes. The biggest one is that the Wizards Play Network (WPN) is doing away with levels. Instead, support will scale with a location’s needs. There will be a premium tier, known as WPN premium, and these stores will get “exclusive events, priority and recognition in our store and event locator, upgraded promo materials, and more” in additional to standard WPN benefits.

The other big change is that promo cards will now be provided in packs of four and distributed as the location sees fit. Each pack comes with a slot dedicated to a different type of card. The first slot is a promo stamped rare or mythic rare from the most recent set. Slot two is a rare or mythic rare from a curated list (which will be made public). The third slot will be dedicated to alternate art basic lands. The fourth slot is reserved for things like Friday Night Magic promos: “special, season specific cards” although Wizards reserves the right to use this spot for a “curve ball.”

Stores will now be measured on two metrics—engaged players and tickets. Tickets are how many players participate in any offering, from Game Day to Commander, to more competitive endeavors. Engaged players are those who participate in at least six Sealed, Standard, or Draft events per year.

These changes will go into effect with Core Set 2020 this summer.

Modern Grand Prix Weekend

There were MagicFests in Bilbao and Tampa Bay this past weekend, and both featured Modern Grand Prix. The story going into these events was the lack of bans during the most recent update, leaving the powerhouses of Faithless Looting and Ancient Stirrings untouched. Would these strategies dominate or would Modern’s diversity help to keep these cards in check?

Grand Prix Bilbao was first on the docket. Over 1,600 players were present to try their hand at Modern. Fear of Faithless Looting was well founded as Izzet Phoenix was over 22% of the Day 2 field. The Top 8 featured five decks powered by the sorcery—2 Izzet Phoenix and 3 Dredge, as well as a Whir Prison, Death’s Shadow Zoo, and Red-Green Valakut. In Bilbao the Phoenix once again rose from the ashes, this time in the hands of former World Champion Guillaume Matignon. Matignon defeated four time Grand Prix finalist Louis-Samuel Deltour on Whir Prison to claim another title.

Izzet Phoenix

Guillaume Matignon

2 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Spirebluff Canal
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
3 Island
2 Mountain
4 Arclight Phoenix
2 Crackling Drake
4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror
1 Echoing Truth
4 Faithless Looting
1 Gut Shot
1 Izzet Charm
1 Lightning Axe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Manamorphose
2 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Serum Visions
2 Surgical Extraction
4 Thought Scour
4 Opt

Sideboard
1 Abrade
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Blood Moon
1 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Dispel
2 Dragon's Claw
1 Flame Slash
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Shatterstorm
1 Spell Pierce

Meanwhile in Tampa Bay a similar tale with a different ending was unfolding. Just under 20% of the Day 2 field was playing Izzet Phoenix and the Top 8 featured four copies of Modern’s current monster under the bed. Also making the elimination rounds was a Tron deck, Black-Green Lantern Control (in the hands of Sam Black), Bogles, and Grixis Death’s Shadow.

It was Rosgen Eapen with Grixis Death’s Shadow that won the day. Eapen had one of the hardest roads in the Top 8, having to go through Sam Black in the quarterfinals, Brian DeMars (on Phoenix) in the semifinals, and Matt Costa (also on Phoenix) in the finals. This was Eapen’s second straight Grand Prix Top 8, having made the semifinals of the Ravnica Allegiance Limited Grand Prix in Cleveland. This time there was no consolation prize, only a trophy.

Grixis Death’s Shadow

Rosehn Eapen

2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Polluted Delta
2 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
2 Watery Grave
1 Island
1 Swamp
4 Death's Shadow
4 Gurmag Angler
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Street Wraith
2 Dismember
2 Faithless Looting
3 Fatal Push
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Mishra's Bauble
2 Sleight of Hand
4 Stubborn Denial
2 Temur Battle Rage
4 Thought Scour
4 Thoughtseize

Sideboard
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Cast Down
1 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Collective Brutality
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Echoing Truth
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Snapcaster Mage
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound

Looking Forward

Next week is MagicFest Kyoto with a Standard Grand Prix. Then the world of Magic turns to Boston and PAX East for the Arena Mythic Invitational. This will be Arena’s first foray on to the big stage of competitive Magic and while a Mythic Championship is not on the line, the quarter-million-dollar first place purse is impressive in a way that anyone, magician or not, can appreciate.