The big day is quickly approaching, and Grand Prix Toronto 2017 is just a few short days away. But for some GP-goers, this weekend will feature two premier events wrapped into a mountainous three day long competitive Magic: The Gathering climb. Face to Face Games will be hosting the North American Frontier Championship this Friday July 21, on-site at 12 p.m. the day prior to the start of the GP. All competitors will receive a GP Promo card for entering and the winner will walk off with 1080 prize tickets, the first place trophy and the title of North American Frontier champ. There will also be some sweet trophies for both second and third place.
Face to Face Toronto’s own “Chef Tony”, Anthony Cameron, has been instrumental in the setup and preparation for the event, so I sat down with him to see what he expects from the tournament, what he’s looking out for in the Frontier metagame and what he thinks the future holds for the format.
Chef Tony will be out battling in the event himself and didn’t want to share too many secrets, but does expect a big turnout. He’s particularly excited about being able to provide trophies for the winners as it’s something he feels the players will love playing for. What Cameron says is unique about this event is the dichotomy between the local Toronto Frontier players who have ample opportunity to play Frontier and some of those coming from out of town who don’t have a local Frontier spot. Cameron told me he expects the event to be about 70 per cent GTA players and 30 per cent Frontier players from out-of-town.
“I think it’ll result in a lot of ‘level one’ deckbuilding,” Cameron said. “You should expect a lot of aggro and a lot of Atarka Red, because these players just haven’t had a chance to test everything and those are the cards they’re most likely to own.”
He expects Hour of Devastation to make a big impact on the format, with the set’s namesake card being particularly potent in Frontier. A lot of the midrange and control decks choose red removal and having a wrath that effectively deals with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a huge add-on for those trying to play slow. Recently, Saheeli Rai combo decks have been the biggest deck in the Toronto metagame. Abrade is another hyper-efficient addition to the format that will give red decks the ability to kill cheap creatures while also answering problem permanents like Aetherworks Marvel.
What Cameron wants to know is if anyone will find a way to break the banned cards. One of Frontier’s largest pulls is the ability to play cards like Dig Through Time and Emrakul, The Promised End, yet, despite that, none of the banned cards in the format have started to dominate just yet. Maybe this Friday is time for Frontier to finally break. Banned cards aside, Cameron thinks Saheeli Combo and Toronto-favourite Abzan Aggro have got to be some of the best decks to pilot for the event. Both decks have linear baseline gameplans but are also customizable and can grind if need be.
As we talked, Cameron moved on to where he sees the next steps for Frontier.
“I actually hope Wizards doesn’t sanction the format,” said Cameron, a statement I felt particularly interested in. He sees the format as a way to “soften the blow” after your Standard cards rotate, and it allows players to have a playing field to go to which prioritizes brewing and fun. He’s seen a lot of the city’s most competitive minded players come out and battle when the PPTQ season dies down and he wants to see that continue. With that said, he doesn’t think it needs sanctioning, but rather a strong community and some word-of-mouth.
“I hope players just go back to their local stores and try to get things started there,” said Cameron. “Hopefully this event shows store owners there’s value in the format and they’re willing to put up the prize support because that’s what brings out players.”
As someone who finds themselves getting the most out of Magic when things are competitive, I waffled on his words for a while. There’s a lot to be said about creating an environment that’s strictly about fun. It’s great that there’s just an option in the city to show up on a Wednesday night and brew a cool deck.
“You’re allowed to play Magic strictly to have fun,” is how Cameron ended our conversation.
Fun in mind, come out at noon on Friday and bring your coolest Frontier brew. Tony will be in the trenches brewing with you. Maybe you’ll hoist that sweet trophy by the end of the day.
Check out all the details about GP Toronto 2017 and its outstanding set of side events, including Gold and Platinum Side Events packages, at gptoronto2017.com!