4 Lessons from Grand Prix Seattle

The Result

The first of several double-GP weekends that will take place this year went off with a bang in Seattle, putting Legacy and Standard through their paces across three days. Not only was it a grand outing for the Magic community at large, there were some explosive results across both formats that will shape both Legacy and Standard moving forward.

In Legacy, Grixis Delver was held in check by a resurgence of other decks that came out of the woodwork. Despite ultimately winning the Legacy GP in the hands of Seattle local Daniel Duterte, Grixis was contained to just three copies in the Top 16, while Lands, Maverick, Miracles, and even Tin Fins put up the numbers. Leovold, however, had a good day shaking hands up and down the top tables—over a quarter of the Top 16 decks played the Emissary of Trest.

In Standard, examining the top decks at the close of play resulted in a Shyamalan-esque ending. There were actually, literally zero copies of The Scarab God in the Top 8. The breakout deck of the tournament, Blue-Red Gifts, worked it harder, better faster, and stronger—it was capable of turn-4 kills. There were so many Gifts in the Top 8 that you’d think it was Christmas time.

Additionally, history was made in Seattle this weekend. Gan Yan became the first player in the history of Magic to go 18-0 at a single GP. Piloting a classic Mono-Red Aggro deck, Yan unflinchingly crushed his enemies and didn’t drop a single match on his way to hoisting the trophy. Congratulations on a stunning achievement!

The Moments

Gan Yan gets the hot potato treatment:

A Storm-like kill with New Perspectives:

About a squillion cosplayers were out and about:


Genesis Wave in Legacy:

Perhaps the greatest alter the world has yet seen:

The Decks

Anyone sitting down to take part in a large Legacy tournament should be ready for some pretty buckwild stuff to happen, but I don’t know how many people were expecting Soldier Stompy to make the appearance it did in Seattle. In a format overrun with Force of Will and Brainstorm, turn-2 Emrakul, and indestructible flying 20/20s, Chantelle Campbell just wanted to beat down with Aerial Responder. Is that too much to ask?

Soldier Stompy

Chantelle Campbell

It’s difficult to argue that Soldiers are one of Magic’s preeminent tribes, but Campbell certainly gave a good account of herself with this off-the-wall approach to Legacy aggro. It plays cards that have proven their chops in the format—registering cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Palace Jailer isn’t raising too many eyebrows. But there’s something decidedly honest about playing a 6-drop in Legacy, even with Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, or even Preeminent Captain to power it out.

Cavern of Souls is a powerhouse here, blanking all the Forces and Dazes usually used to disrupt a game plan like this. Fundamentally, however, this list is a Chalice of the Void deck, maximizing its chances to play a turn-1 Chalice for 1. That alone can brickwall a wide percentage of the decks in Legacy. From there, any old draft chaff might be able to get the job done.

In Standard, we saw God-Pharaoh’s Gift rise to the top of the heap, having a terrific weekend and posting some pretty convincing numbers. Rather than the White-Blue or even Jeskai versions we’ve seen in the past, this version eschewed white altogether to go all-in on Gate to the Afterlife, alongside some spicy red cards. The weekend’s results speak to the power of the deck—Grayson Roberts took his build all the way to the finals!

Blue-Red Gifts

Grayson Roberts

Rather than discarding a GPG before returning it with Refurbish, this list looks to fill the bin with creatures instead so as to enable Gate to the Afterlife (and fuel the GPG, of course). This isn’t such a difficult undertaking, considering the number of creatures that put themselves into the graveyard: Fanatical Firebrand, Bomat Courier, and Walking Ballista all provide ready fodder for a Gate activation.

The usual suspects help to fill the ‘yard—Champion of Wits and Minister of Inquiries—but Warkite Marauder is a new one that will help to push through damage here and there. On top of that, Combat Celebrant results in some ridiculous GPG turns with multiple combat steps crashing through for massive amounts of damage.

With no interaction in the main deck, this list is pretty all-in on plan A in game 1. We’ll see how thing develop in the coming weeks, and if the list is tuned further —it seems like this deck has the power level to be an ongoing force in Standard.

The Takeaway

An interesting parallel between Legacy and Standard is the way that both formats have been dominated by a powerful, format-defining creature that uses the graveyard to take over games—Deathrite Shaman and The Scarab God have been enormously impactful in their respective formats in recent times. Where this parallel diverges, however, is in the takeaway from this weekend’s results.

In Legacy, DRS still put up the numbers. It appeared in over 50% of the decks in the Top 16, although its usual vehicle of choice, Grixis Delver, wasn’t as strongly represented. Instead, it was Leovold decks of various types that really shone: both 4-Color Czech Pile and straight Sultai. These slower “control” decks have a wide range of powerful answers, and play hardball against the Brainstorms and Ponders of the format with Leovold.

Outside of Leovold, Dark Depths was the other card to shine this weekend, in both Lands and Turbo Depths. Miracles also put on a bit of a show, continuing to adapt to the post-Sensei’s-Divining-Top world with Monastery Mentor, Portent, and even Search for Azcanta. Nonetheless, and despite these other decks doing well this weekend, DRS is still a force to be reckoned with in Legacy.

On the other hand, in Standard we saw The Scarab God hit the bench for the weekend. Zero copies in the Top 8 and only four in the Top 16 was not a result that many predicted, especially given the stranglehold that old Scabby G has had on Standard for weeks and weeks.

Blue-Black Midrange, touted as the best deck in the format, found itself in a tragic 9th place in the hands of Brad Nelson (who missed Top 8 on breakers by an unbelievable 0.0007%) and apart from that, The Scarab God didn’t have too much to say for itself. Is this the beginning of an upheaval of the established norm in Standard? Given that Dominaria is just around the corner to shake things up even further, the reign of TSG may have come to an end!

Next week I’m off to Hartford and to Sydney for some Modern! The format is still in a great state of flux, so I can’t wait to see what comes of it. I’ll be back then to get across the results from both sides of the Pacific!


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