May 27, 2015

The First Grand Prix Las Vegas


No, not that Grand Prix Las Vegas, the one won by Neal Oliver. We'll be talking about that one plenty later this week. No, today I want to talk about the very first Grand Prix Las Vegas, held all the way back in December 2001.

It was a simpler time. Magic hadn't experienced the explosive growth we've experienced over the past three years, and a "mere" 462 players showed up for Grand Prix Las Vegas.

How long ago was this Grand Prix? Well, let me put it this way, Bob Maher, Sr.—yes, senior, as in the father of Hall of Fame player Bob Maher, Jr.—was featured in Round 2.

The format was Extended, a format old enough and defunct enough that many of you reading now may not even know what it was (it was sort of a precursor to Modern, except it rotated and was something closer to a super-sized Standard that just held on to cards longer). It was following on the heels of Pro Tour New Orleans, the one famously dominated by Donate-Illusions of Grandeur and featuring one of the most stacked Top 8s of all time: Kai Budde, Tomi Walamies, Jelger Wiegersma, Dave Humpherys, and Darwin Kastle were all notable names in that Top 8.

Vegas was different, however. For one, Donate was pretty well hated out, as people went after it viciously, to the point of playing Choke main, as the winner, Michael Pustilnik did.

Michael Pustilnik—Grand Prix Las Vegas 2001

That's not to say Donate didn't show up. Ten copies of the deck made it to Day Two, the most of any archetype. Also note how quaint it is that the archetype breakdown for Day Two can be done in the number of decks, and not as a percentage of the field.

While Pustinik was the eventual winner, the Top 8 did feature an appearance from Rob Dougherty, now of the Hall of Fame. However, unlike the loaded Pro Tour prior, Dougherty was the only notable name in that Top 8.

Unlike the following Grand Prix Las Vegas, the first Grand Prix Las Vegas was decidedly quaint. Almost adorable, by today's standards. And it's virtually lost to the haze of history since.

This weekend will be anything but. Modern Masters Weekend will make Magic history.

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