MTG 2020 Grand Finals Day 1 standings and highlights

Autumn Burchett is the only undefeated player.

Embercleave Art Magic Throne of Eldraine
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

The Magic: The Gathering 2020 season Grand Finals began today with 32 of the best players in the world competing in six rounds of action. Autumn Burchett, Mythic Invitational winner and rising star, came out at the top of the field after finishing day one 6-0 with their Gruul Adventures deck. 

In a tournament full of Omnath Ramp and Omnath Adventures, it was Gruul Adventures piloted by Emma Handy, Autumn Burchett, and Luis Salvatto that stood out by going 8-1 during the three Standard rounds of the day. The aggressive red-green list forced early game pressure while being capable of establishing a powerful engine in the late game.

While the star of Standard was Gruul Adventures, the Historic rounds proved the strength of midrange strategies. Jund Sacrifice and Four-Color Midrange continued where they left off at the last Mythic Invitational with strong showings.

Screengrab via Twitch.tv/magic
Screengrab via Twitch.tv/magic

Here are the competitors with four or more wins at the end of day one.

  • Autumn Burchett: 6-0
  • Seth Manfield: 5-1
  • Austin Bursavich: 5-1
  • Eetu Perttula: 4-2
  • Patrick Fernandes: 4-2
  • Christopher Leonard: 4-2
  • Gabriel Nassif: 4-2
  • Allen Wu: 4-2
  • Raphael Levy: 4-2
  • Alvaro Fernandez Torres: 4-2
  • Emma Handy: 4-2

Tomorrow, the field of 32 will play six more rounds to determine top-eight placements going into Oct. 11.

Aside from Burchett, Manfield was another star from day one with a record of 5-1. The first featured matchup of Standard, Manfield’s Dimir Rogues list looked to topple Omnath Adventures piloted by Patrick Fernandes. Game one showed Omnath Adventures’ late-game power with a come-from-behind victory by Fernandes.

Game two was all Manfield who established a strong board state with Thieves’ Guild Enforcer and Soaring Thought-Thief. Protected by his hand full of removal and counterspells, Manfield took game two relatively easy. Manfield continued his momentum by using a plethora of removal to strip Fernandes of his resources. It was two Into The Story casts drawing Manfield eight cards and plenty of answers to chop down any advantage Fernandes attempted to create. Seth Manfield won the underdog matchup 2-1.

Manfield’s Dimir Rogue’s deck is different than the stock Rogues lists that are around. While testing with Ivan Floch, Manfield developed a Rogues deck that could go long with Omnath and it clearly worked out.

“We ended up combining different versions of different things we had, we wanted to be able to play long games and feel like we were going to be OK,” Seth Manfield said in a post-game interview.

Manfield returned to the broadcast to face the only other undefeated player Autumn Burchett and their Gruul Adventures list. Manfield continued his hot streak in game one with a similar path to victory as his game against Fernandes. The card draw, removal, and aggressive board state proved too much to handle for Burchett in game one.

They came back strong in game two despite Manfield seemingly having an answer for everything. It was Burchett’s The Great Henge in game three that put Manfield in a bind with no answer in sight. The card advantage provided by The Great Henge allowed Autumn to break parity and run away with the game to remain the only undefeated player through five rounds.

The first three rounds of Historic play showcased some fascinating decks, such as Ken Yukuhiro’s Neostorm combo deck which took on Gabriel Nassif and Four-Color Midrange. Neostorm isn’t favored against Four-Color Midrange but Yukuhiro beat the odds earlier in the tournament by defeating Jund Sacrifice.

In game one, Yukuhiro won a grindy matchup against the most grindy deck of the format. Off the back of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Yukuhiro was able to stick around long enough to thin his deck and find his combo.

Yukuhiro shifted into a more creature focused gameplan in game two but it was Nassif’s sideboard that came through with Yusharn, Implacable Earth’s static ability shutting down the Neostorm combo, allowing Nissa, Who Shakes The World to take over the game. Game three came down to the wire with Nassif’s Uro keeping him in the game. In the crucial final sequence, Yukuhiro ended up one mana short of securing the combo victory. Nassif took the tense matchup 2-1.

The last match of round three joined broadcast after a 41-minute game one. Both Autumn Burchett and Christopher Leonard entered game three with under three minutes on their play clock. This final speed Magic game was intense due to Burchett and Leonard both piloting late-game decks. It was a battle for time, not life. The game was incredibly entertaining. Both players rapidly passed turns hoping to get a time lead. Autumn pulled ahead in the race and took the victory with under 30 seconds left on their clock.

In a battle between titans, Luis Salvatto brought Omnath Ramp against Luis Scott-Vargas’ well-tuned Four-Color Midrange deck. Scott-Vargas managed to take the match convincingly. Scott-Vargas’ removal kept Salvatto down, preventing him from truly going off with Omnath. 

Scott-Vargas returned to the broadcast to face Mythic Invitational winner Seth Manfield and his Jund Sacrifice list. This match was a huge test for Scott-Vargas’ deck because his list splashes white for Yasharn. Yasharn was a nonfactor in this match. Manfield took game one off a Collected Company finding two Mayhem Devil.  In game two, Scott-Vargas flooded while Manfield leveraged Priest of the Forgotten Gods and Mayhem Devil for the easy victory. 

In a rogue deck battle, Michael Jacob saw his Neostorm list battle with Luca Magni’s Azorius Control deck, which was one of the worst-performing list at the Mythic Invitational. While the decklists are rogue in the Historic format, the match played out like a classic combo-vs-control matchup.

Jacob was in a position where he had his combo pieces in hand, but couldn’t pull the trigger because Magni held three Absorb in hand with a commanding Teferi, Hero of Dominaria on the battlefield. Magni rode this advantage to a game one victory. Game two was much of the same. Magni had a grip of counterspells in his hand and attacked with tokens from cycling Shark Typhoon. Jacob didn’t cast a single Neoform.

The action continues tomorrow with day two of the 2020 Grand Finals on the Magic Twitch channel beginning at 11am CT.