4 Lessons from Grand Prix Montreal and Mexico City

The Result

Guilds of Ravnica made its GP debut this weekend with the brand-new Limited format being played in both Montreal and Mexico City. Going into the weekend, anticipation was high, as it seemed like Guilds was going to be a particularly sweet format.

Happily, it didn’t disappoint, with a weekend of exciting and engaging Limited being showcased with live video from Montreal, and text updated from Mexico City.

In Mexico City, the Top 8 was stacked with some huge names—Steve Rubin and Logan Nettles made an appearance, while Martin Jůza casually picked up what must be his millionth GP Top 8. Additionally, notable streamer Jason “Amaz” Chan snagged himself his first GP Top 8, proving he’s got the chops with Magic as well as Hearthstone. Ultimately, however, Mark Jacobson was able to vanquish all comers and was crowned the champion!

In Montreal, the Top 8 was overrun with Canadians, fighting bravely on home soil. Six of the eight players were Canucks, and the one hometown hero from Montreal itself—Christopher Leonard Huu Nguyen—ended up victorious after a hard-fought finals. Congratulations!

The Moments

Martin Eric Gauthier doesn’t waste time—he’s got places to be and people to see. Even in a Top 8 Draft, Gauthier didn’t bother looking through the rest of the pack after seeing an Assassin’s Trophy as the first card. Easy game!

Cosplayers at GP Mexico City were on fire—figuratively, that is. Cosplayers on literal fire is no fun at all, no matter how authentic you want your Chandra to be:

Making Thousand-Year Storm happen in Constructed will be hard enough, but Izzet master Ian Barber got it done in Limited! With his opponent, Mathieu Payot, at a very healthy life total, Barber used Thousand-Year Storm, Electrostatic Field, and a flurry of instants and sorceries to win out of nowhere:

And the cosplayers in Montreal didn’t let their side down, either! Perhaps Garruk’s long absence from Magic cards is due to a frantic GP cosplaying schedule:

Apparently Thief of Sanity reads 1UB: Win the game! Ari Lax picks up a freebie when Eli Kassis—on 24 life—scoops ’em up as soon as the 2/2 flyer hits the battlefield:

The Decks

Comparing the Draft decks that won the respective GPs gives some very interesting data points, and speaks to the flexibility of the current Limited format.

In Mexico, Mark Jacobson put together a Dimir deck with a moderate green splash to play some of the best removal available. Jacobson’s deck played very little in the way of finishers—Kraul Swarm and Nightveil Predator being the only win conditions with real resilience—and instead was completely overloaded with removal.

This is a go-long “control” deck (as much as any Limited deck can be a control deck), with no end of ways to manage the battlefield. The green splash for cards like Status // Statue and especially Find // Finality goes to show how important the split cards are shaping up to be. Find // Finality, in particular, is so cohesive with this deck’s game plan—either control the board with Finality, or gain card advantage with Find.


Mark Jacobson, 1st place at GP Mexico City 2018

On the other hand, Christopher Leonard Huu Nguyen put together a purely Izzet deck that had something of a combo finish! Gravitic Punch isn’t generally seen as a Limited all-star, but it put in work with high-power creatures and pump spells like Sure Strike—a combo that ended up winning him the GP!


Christopher Leonard Huu Nguyen, 1st place at GP Montreal 2018

The Takeaway

Guilds of Ravnica has been received very well so far. After the supremely excellent Dominaria was followed by the middling Core Set 2019, Guilds of Ravnica is once again charting a course for excellence.

Top-quality Guilds decks often have a strong synergy component. While it’s possible to draft generic “good stuff” decks, the best-in-class lists generally make the most of guild mechanics and the various enablers that power them up. As we saw throughout the weekend, when a strong archetype comes together it really feels like you’re “doing it.”

Interestingly, many mono-colored cards feel a lot more like gold cards than usual, as they generally fit into one of the two guilds better than the other. In a regular Draft format, a Citywatch Sphinx would be a great pickup in any blue deck, and while it can still be good in Dimir decks (especially with Surveil), big blue flyers feel a lot more at home in Izzet decks. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course, but it’s interesting to see the “feel” of many mono-colored cards when it comes to the best archetype they fit into.

Splashing in Guilds is achievable and often beneficial. The abundance of Guildgates makes it very easy to find room for a third color, and often there are plenty of reasons to do so. In particular, the split cards are perfect targets to splash, as even if you don’t draw a source of your third color, the first (hybrid) half is playable off your base colors. Split cards are, generally, excellent—take them highly and look to pick up the relevant Guildgates.

More Limited is on the menu for next week, but this time it’s Team Limited. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Guilds of Ravnica has in store for us in Denver!

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