Think about the most fun you’ve had at a Grand Prix event. You might be thinking back to a local event, or maybe you’re thinking back to Grand Prix Las Vegas, but this weekend folks who live in the Seattle area got the best of both worlds with 2018’s first double-event being held at Grand Prix Seattle featuring Legacy on Friday and Saturday followed by Standard on Saturday and Sunday.

Dan Duterte won the Legacy Grand Prix and Gan Yan won the Standard Grand Prix but events like Grand Prix Seattle are about so much more than just the two main events. These events are about the community. I’m not going to spend too much time on this topic because I think it’s been beaten to death over and over again in the wake of Grand Prix Las Vegas but I will say this: what we saw this weekend and what I expect we’ll see from future double events this year is not enough.

It’s not enough community events. It’s not enough space for casual fans. It’s not enough showcasing of the Magic brand instead of the Magic card game. Sooner or later Wizards of the Coast and Channel Fireball need to come to the realization that the actual Grand Prix Tournament(s) being held are not the main draw of the event. The main draw of the event is the convention-like atmosphere that surrounds a three-day Grand Prix.

Artists. Cosplayers. Retailers. Buying and Selling collections. Trading on the floor. Grinding 8-player events. Checking out the side events. Checking out the prize wall. Getting your cards signed. Meeting up with old friends. Getting dinner with the same group of friends every few months at one of these events. The list goes on, but if you think about what makes a Grand Prix fun for you, you might find that the actual main event isn’t very high on your list, and once Wizards of the Coast and Channel Fireball figure that out, we might finally get the convention-level events we need.

What We Learned About Legacy

Five out of the top eight decks this weekend featured Deathrite Shaman and although more copies of Force of Will and Brainstorm were present, the dominance of Deathrite Shaman, better known as DRS with our pals over at Leaving a Legacy, cannot be understated. This brings up the important question of how to properly classify decks in Eternal formats (e.g. Legacy and Vintage).

The five decks that played DRS span a bit of a range of archetypes including Grixis Delver, Sultai Control, Four-Color Control, and Maverick. Those are definitely not all the same deck, even if they seem similar, but it begs the question, are these Delver of Secrets decks, Force of Will decks, Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks, Mother of Runes decks, or Deathrite Shaman decks?

And, of course, we also have to address the question of whether or not Deathrite Shaman is too powerful or too format-warping for Legacy. The short answer is that while DRS is very powerful it isn’t necessarily the engine that fuels any of those decks. What DRS provides, and what got it banned in Modern, is incredibly efficient and consistent use of resources. In Modern it was oppressive but in Legacy its just another tool in a much bigger bag.

Still, while it may not be a beast on power level, is it warping the format towards DRS decks and decks that can beat a turn one DRS? Looking at the top 16 instead of the top 8 doesn’t paint a different picture as 9 of the top 16 decks featured the full four copies of DRS in the main board. Then again, if appearing in 50% of decks got a card banned in Legacy we would have waved goodbye to Force of Will and Brainstorm a long time ago.

Banning a card in Legacy requires more format warping than I think DRS is currently responsible for. That’s not to say I’d be surprised if DRS was banned, because I wouldn’t be, but I don’t think it’s causing the kind of damage to Legacy that a card like Sensei’s Divining Top was causing. Despite DRS’s dominance in the field, the format still feels wide open and tournaments are still very enjoyable. I don’t expect any bannings anytime soon.

What We Learned About Standard

April 16th is only one week away now and that’s important for two reasons, first it’s the day your taxes are due (get on it) and second it’s the next Banned and Restricted announcement date. In the past 18 months, Standard has undergone an incredibly tumultuous ride as nine different cards were given the ban-hammer and the format rotation rules changed. But have the clouds finally begun to part on a new glorious future for Standard?

Maybe. The top eight of Grand Prix Seattle featured four-and-a-half different archetypes including Blue-Red God Pharaoh’s Gift, Mardu Vehicles, Sultai Constrictor, Black-Red Aggro, and its older half-brother Mono-Red Aggro (hence the four-and-a-half). Adding the next eight decks on the list only throws in Blue-Black Scarab God control to the list, so if anything it seems that Standard has stabilized around five or so core strategies.

And that’s, not bad? We’re only a few weeks away from the release of Dominaria which will almost certainly completely shake up the Standard environment. From there we’re only a few months away from Kaladesh block with its format-warping Energy mechanic rotating out of Standard along with Amonkhet’s baggage. Energy is no longer the completely dominant strategy of the format and though it took several bannings to get us to this point, we’ve hopefully learned a valuable lesson: Wizards of the Coast screwed up Standard big time.

Over the course of the past year we’ve also been introduced to Dan Burdick’s new Play Design team and Mark Rosewater has been outlining the new design process that was used for Dominaria so it’s entirely possible the the parting of clouds we’re currently experience, as Ixalan Standard evolves into Dominaria Standard, is the start of a trend and not just a short break in the storm.

I think we all hope sunny skies are on the horizon with Dominaria and the yet-to-be-named “Spaghetti” set coming out in the fall, but we’re not quite ready to put the pitchforks away just yet.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13

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