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Preparing for Grand Prix: Dallas

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I’ve spent all week trying to decide if I wanted to jump into the Legacy discussion. I wanted to avoid it because I feel like a number of writers have covered it in a ton of detail, I’ve made my thoughts clear through Twitter and I don’t think I have much to add. Then Sean Morgan blew up the MTG financial world with this article on ManaNation.com, where he called out Star City Games and Ben Bleiweiss. I posted a longer version of my thoughts in the comments section, and there is a very interesting discussion there, along with Ben Bleiweiss’ personal take on the issue.

But this week we’ve got something else a little more immediate to focus on. Grand Prix Dallas is in just a few days, and whether you’re attending or not you need to keep an eye on what comes out of Texas. Grand Prixs, especially in the United States, have much larger consequences than the weekly SCG Open Series.

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, there are simply more people, in particular more pros. Combined with the additional number of rounds, this means decks that truly have the best percentages against the field are going to shine, rather than the same four pros getting 5-6 wins with CawBlade against lesser competition after having byes at an SCG Open.

Secondly, there is much more incentive to “break” the format this weekend than there is on a weekly basis on the Open series. Why is this? Because winning Star City Games Open nets you (possibly) $2000 and some SCG points. This is great for anyone playing competitively and helps the game as a whole, but it doesn’t compare to the incentive of winning a Grand Prix, where the prize is $3,500, pro points (which have a much higher EV than SCG Open points) and invitations to the Pro Tour on the line, where the top prize is $40,000.

We saw some of this last week, with a group of European players getting to the top with traditional UB Control. Now it’s time for the American pros to get in on the act, using Barcelona as a template. With that said, CawBlade is still going to be the most-played deck and is going to post a number of very good finishes.

So what does this mean for you financially? In short, it means there’s a lot more riding on this weekend than usual. Expect some movement in the market this weekend, which you can stay ahead of in a few ways.

The first is going to be this column. If you remember, I suggested picking up Inferno Titan back in February as decks with a lot of small creatures began to pick up. Since then, Inferno Titan has been steadily climbing, and is currently the most expensive it’s been since its release. One of two things are going to happen with this card this weekend. Either it doesn’t see much play at the top tables (unlikely), or it keeps beating down on aggro decks and its price really jumps after the tournament. If you haven’t picked any up yet, I highly suggest doing so before this weekend. On the other hand, if it tanks this weekend I would look to unload these next week. The only way I see this card falling off is if something emerges to make it not worth playing Squadron Hawks and Stoneforge Mystic.

From what I can tell, other decks to look out for are Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp and possibly BR Vamps. Both decks posted strong results against CawBlade in Barcelona and are two of the most-talked about “sleeper” decks going into Dallas.

If Vampires puts up a strong finish look at Kalastria Highborn and Bloodghast as potential pickups. Keep in mind that Vamps is easily hated out by a Pyroclasm or two, so I see these as short-term pickups if the deck performs this weekend. Both are off their previous highs right now and Bloodghast in particular has had a roller-coaster ride throughout its run in Standard, so it could easily see a rise back to its previous price.

For Eldrazi, the possible gainer is Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. He’s being run as a 4-of in the deck and has fallen about 15 percent off his previous peak.

The second-best thing to do is the usual coverage following, with a few notes. If you’re on-site, you can take a look around the top tables and talk to those on site to get an idea of what’s doing well late in Day 2, allowing you to possibly buy from the dealers or pick up a card in trades before the price jumps. If you’re at home, follow along on Twitter more than anything else. It gives you the quickest updates both from pros talking about their decks, and financial coverage people tweeting updates. Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to tweet as much as I would like due to my decade-old phone, but that’s the breaks.

I’m also planning on doing some coverage when (if) I scrub out of the tournament. My day job is being a journalist, and that’s the approach I’ll be bringing to what I write. I was on the Mana Screwed podcast this week, and Robert Martin (@TheBeme) and I are planning to feature the “average Joe” of the Magic world. There’s enough coverage about how Brian Kibler or LSV is doing with their newest tech, but I think the best stories are going to be from the average PTQ grinder.

Style-wise, the stories I write are more like the stories you’d see in a newspaper or news website than they are like the typical deck tech you read at every tournament. It’s something I haven’t seen much of in the Magic community, and I’m really interested to see how it goes over. I’m not sure where everything will be posted, but I’ll make sure to let you know via Twitter once I figure it out.

On the other hand, I might just Top 8 the tournament, in which case you aren’t going to find much event coverage from me.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’m looking forward to the event and meeting up with some people from around the Magic world. If you’re at the tournament feel free to stop by and say what’s up, and please don’t embarrass me too badly if I get paired up against you!

- Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at QuietSpeculation.com and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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3 thoughts on “Preparing for Grand Prix: Dallas

  1. Even though that mana nation article was posted not much earlier than this one, I feel that I am already sick of it, a lot of people are upset about being priced out of a format that has finally started to see it's resurgence, but I'll save my 2 cents for next week as I assume that's your next topic.

    This was a really good article as to what to look for in a GP in general. I was hoping for some note worthy places to dine around the venue, especially since I will be without the #magicshortbus for this one.

  2. @Doran Honestly, the reason I've shied away from writing about the topic is because there have been some great works on it already from Jon Medina and especially Chas Andres' columns. I've made it clear that I agree with them, and I'm just not sure how much more room there is to talk about it. With that said, I do have some thoughts about it, if people aren't tired of reading about it.
    What I will probably do is write a detailed timeline/recap of the situation to get people up to date. I feel like this is a way to centralize all the work done so far on the subject and make it something besides another writer ranting. Is this something you're interested in seeing?

    @Mike Yeah, the comments section is infinitely more interesting than the original article.

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