Grand Prix Denver will go down as one of the most memorable GPs in Magic history. While Standard continues to be wide open, Brad Nelson and Corey Baumeister continue to dominate the format regardless of deck choice. Both of them, as well as teammate Brian Braun-Duin, played the exact same 75 cards, and all of them made the Top 4.

The story coming out of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation was the dominance of the Ramunap Red deck. It made up six of the Top 8 decks and Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa eventually won the tournament with the deck. But a week later at Grand Prix Minneapolis, the field was ready for the Red deck, resulting in only a single copy of the Top 8. Instead, Black dominated the tournament, with Zombies, GB Constrictor, Mardu Vehicles, and RB Control making up seven of the Top 8 decks. So with Red out of favor, and Black on the rise, what would take down Grand Prix Denver?

Well, Brad Nelson, his brother Corey Baumeister, and Brian Braun-Duin found the answer. After both Brad and Corey Top 8’d the last Standard GP, Grand Prix Minneapolis, the trio came together to test for for Grand Prix Denver and ended up registering the exact same 75-card Temur Energy. They outperformed the other 1,189 players that entered Grand Prix Denver and found themselves in the Top 8, along with three Ramunap Red decks, a single copy of Zombies, and a UW Monument player.

The Bracket

The Top 8 bracket from Grand Prix Denver 2017.

The Semifinals

Despite making up three of the eight players, the Temur Trio™ somehow both managed to avoid getting paired against each other in the quarters and won their quarterfinal matches. This pitted Nelson vs. Baumeister in a brother-on-brother Temur Energy mirror-match in the semifinals.

Both players started Game 1 on a mulligans, but Nelson kept a one land hand, with only Aether Hub and an Attune With Aether for mana, then scryed another Attune to the top. Since he was on the play, Nelson played his Aether Hub and…passed the turn. He decided to not cast the Attune With Aether, which would have forced him to shuffle his deck, and instead draw the second Attune on Turn 2. Nelson then cast the first Attune, searched up a Forest, played it, and played the second Attune, searching up a Mountain.

Nelson’s Turn 3 play was a Longtusk Cub which, with four Energy from his two Attune With Aethers, threatened to take over the game all by itself. Baumeister played a Rogue Refiner on his own third turn, which was immediately Magma Sprayed by Nelson, allowing him to go all in on his Longtusk Cub and win the game after a few attacks with a huge Cub and some friends.

Nelson’s Longtusk Cub went the distance in Game 1 of the Semifinals.

Both players kept good seven-card hands in Game 2, with Baumeister planning to use a Turn 2 Servant of the Conduit to power out an early Bristling Hydra or even a Confiscation Coup. Unfortunately for him, Nelson was ready with the end of turn Magma Spray to exile the Servant—a card that Baumeister likely assumed had been boarded out. Nelson was then able to untap and play his own Servant of the Conduit on his second turn, setting him up to play his powerful threats ahead of schedule.

The flaw in Baumeister‘s plan was quickly revealed as he failed to play a spell on Turn 3, while Nelson cast a Rogue Refiner, drawing a card and adding to his Energy reserve. The players then cast dueling Turn 4 Bristling Hydras, which traded with each other after Baumeister attacked. His only follow-up was a Longtusk Cub, which Nelson untapped and killed with Harnessed Lightning.

Unfortunately for Baumeister, he drew multiple Confiscation Coups while only facing small creatures. He chose to steal a tapped Rogue Refiner, which was immediately killed by Nelson‘s Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Baumeister used his second Confiscation Coup on the Skyship, but Nelson kept chipping in with his two Servant of the Conduits and deployed a Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Whirler Virtuoso (with 12 Energy) to further pressure Baumeister‘s board of a single Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. But Baumeister couldn’t find enough creatures to block Nelson‘s sudden air force of 4 Thopters, so he made a desperate attack, and conceded the match on Nelson blocked correctly.

The Finals

After 17 rounds of Magic at Grand Prix Denver, only two players were left standing: friends and testing partners Brian Braun-Duin and Brad Nelson.

Both players kept seven in Game 1 and led off with tapped lands into an Attune with Aether for Nelson. Both players had Turn 3 Rogue Refiners and entered the mid-game on relatively even footing. But Nelson‘s Turn 4 play of a Whirler Virtuoso easily outclassed Braun-Duin‘s Turn 4 Servant of the Conduit, and Nelson followed up with a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, into a Glorybringer, which attacked and exerted, killing Braun-Duin‘s freshly-played Longtusk Cub.

Braun-Duin had answers to both the Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and the Glorybringer, as well as a Skysovereign of his own. But Nelson, continuing to play like a Standard Savant, activates his Lumbering Falls, forcing Braun-Duin to crew his Skysovereign, which Nelson then Abrades to win Game 1.

Braun-Duin started Game 2 with a Longtusk Cub, but Nelson had the Abrade to remove it. Braun-Duin then followed it up with a Turn 3 Tireless Tracker and Nelson has a Harnessed Lightning to kill it before Braun-Duin can untap and play another land. Braun-Duin then plays a Turn 5 Glorybringer and looked to be in control of the midgame but Nelson had aSkysovereign, Consul Flagship and the Confiscation Coup to steal Braun-Duin‘s Dragon. Braun-Duin was able to muster two Chandra, Flamecallers but was unable to fend off the Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, crewed by a Bristling Hydra, and his own confiscated Glorybringer. With that, Nelson won the game, the match, and Grand Prix Denver 2017.

2017-18 Pro Tour Season Update

1,189 players entered Grand Prix Denver and 162 managed to get 30 match points and walk away with at least a Pro Point for their efforts. Players are allowed to count their top six Grand Prix results for the full year, so many of these players will be happy to have gotten one in the books early, especially those who secured a top-eight spot.

2017-18 Player of the Year Race – Top 10

After back-to-back Standard Grand Prix Top 8s, the PotY race is being dominated by brothers Brad Nelson and Corey Baumeister.

1. 12 – Brad Nelson
2. 11- Corey Baumeister
3. 8 – Steve Locke
4. 8 – Loic Le Briand
5. 8 – Joao Lelis
6. 7 – Matt Sikkink
7. 6 – Brian Braun-Duin
8. 6 – Steve Hatto
9. 6 – Vitor Grassato
10. 5 – John Rolf

Ixalan Cycle Updates

Grand Prix Minnesota also marked the opening of the Ixalan Cycle which will begin having pro points counted for the “Spaghetti” Cycle in September of 2018. Players can only apply the top three finishes from the Ixalan Cycle to their point total for the “Spaghetti” Cycle. Players here who managed to pick up points, especially those who won’t be attending Pro Tour Ixalan or the World Championship, have gotten off to a quick start in the quest for points in the new world that awaits us in the 2018-19 season.

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