Top 5 Players of the Weekend
Learn more about five players who put up a great weekend through a high finish, interesting deck, or memorable moment.
5. Brad Nelson
Brad Nelson came into this weekend looking at the Invitational as a “PCQ.” The Players’ Championship qualification that comes with an Invitational win loomed above as Nelson worked his way through the Swiss with Death’s Shadow Aggro and Bant Humans, two decks he had been testing for weeks coming into the event. Once in the Top 8, the 2014 Players’ Champion faced a tough matchup in the quarterfinals. Nelson managed to get through Miles Rodriguez on Burn in a tight five-game set, setting up his semifinals match against Jadine Klomparens on Jund. Nelson opened the match by winning the first game on the second turn with a massive Death’s Shadow, but was unable to take another game as Klomparens took the match 3-1. Nelson came up short of making the Players’ Championship this weekend, but he already has his sights set on the Atlanta Invitational. Check out Nelson’s Death’s Shadow Aggro Deck Tech here.
Michael Majors is a platinum level pro with a Grand Prix win and an Open win under his belt, but entering this weekend he hadn’t made the Top 8 of an Invitational. Majors made the Top 8 in the most dramatic fashion, winning Round 16 to reach 12-3-1 and squeaking into the elimination rounds as the No. 8 seed, beating out two other players with the same record. Majors opted to play Abzan in Modern and his own take on Temur Emerge in Standard, which was featured in a Deck Tech here. Majors took down the top-seeded Eric Hawkins on Affinity in four games in the quarterfinals, leading him to his semifinal match again Liam Lonergan on Elves. Though he had plenty of removal and great sideboard options, Majors came up short while falling in four relatively quick and uneventful games. Though Majors didn’t come home with a trophy, the 35 SCG Points for his Top-4 finish will jump him up the Player of the Year leaderboard and leave him just outside of the Top 16. Check out Majors’ Abzan decklist here.
3. Tom Ross
Tom Ross started the weekend off as the Season Two point leader and was looking to lock up his qualification to the Players’ Championship. Not only did The Boss clinch his #SCGPC invite, but he made his fourth Invitational Top 8 in the process, cementing him as the winner of the Season Two points race. Ross ran back Dredge in Modern after his Open Top 8 in Syracuse last weekend and Mono-White Humans in Standard. Ross was worried about his Standard deck choice, but after going 6-1-1 with it, including winning his Round 15 match against Bradley Carpenter to secure his Top 8 berth, the choice looked as good as it did when he won back-to-back Standard Opens with the deck earlier this season. Ross would have to win the tournament with Dredge if he was going to claim his third Invitational title and his quarterfinal matchup was a rough one. Ross couldn’t get anything going as he fell to Liam Lonergan in three fast games. Ross will gain sizable ground on Jeff Hoogland in the Player of the Year race while also earning his spot in his third straight Players’ Championship. Check out Ross’ Dredge decklist here.
Jadine Klomparens dive back into tournament Magic came at a great time as she started the Invitational with a 7-1 record on Day 1. Klomparens used Jund and Bant Company to secure enough wins for her first Invitational Top 8 berth, getting to intentionally draw in to the elimination rounds with Tom Ross in Round 16. Once in the Top 8, Klomparens faced down the one true control deck remaining in the tournament in the hands of Lucas Loysen. Klomparens won a tough five-game match, using a Liliana of the Veil ultimate before Loysen drew seven cards in one turn to seal the match. Klomparens battled through Brad Nelson on Death’s Shadow Aggro in the semifinals, weathering a Turn-2 loss in the first game before taking the match in four games. Klomparens was on the verge of making history as the first woman to win an Invitational, but Liam Lonergan and his Elves deck had other plans. Klomparens couldn’t hold off the elven army as Lonergan took the match 3-0. Though she didn’t come home with the trophy, Klomparens will start Season Three in great position after earning 40 SCG Points for her runner-up finish. With a bunch of extra cash for second place, Klomparens said she might be looking to travel and make a run in the final season of 2016. Check out Klomparens’ Jund decklist here.
1. Liam Lonergan
Liam Lonergan flew under the radar for most of the Invitational, but he made his presence known when it mattered most. After cruising into the Top 8 with a flawless 8-0 record in Modern with Elves, Lonergan looked to run that record up with three more potential matches remaining. The New Jersey local qualified for the event by winning a Modern IQ with Elves and clearly knew what he was doing. Lonergan got paired with one of the scariest names to play in an Invitational Top 8, but didn’t back down. Lonergan swept Tom Ross 3-0 in the quarterfinals before defeating Michal Majors 3-1 in the semifinals. Lonergan had never made Day 2 in a multi-day tournament before and now was a match away from winning $10,000, an invite to the Players’ Championship and Pro Tour Kaladesh, along with a token bearing his own image. Lonergan wasted no time in the finals, winning with another 3-0 sweep as his Elves overran Jadine Klomparens in the finals. Though he came in as an unknown, get to know Lonergan, as you’ll be seeing him come December in the 2016 Players’ Championship. Check out Lonergan’s undefeated Modern Elves decklist here.