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2020 Season Grand Finals Top 8 Highlights

October 11, 2020
Corbin Hosler

Twelve rounds of play on Day One and Day Two, split between Standard and Historic format, brought the 2020 Season Grand Finals to its Top 8 this weekend. As we entered Sunday, all that remained was to play out the double-elimination bracket and crown a new Magic champion.

The incredible eight Sunday players faced one more day to earn the Grand Finals trophy.

Autumn Burchett

Austin Bursavich

Patrick Fernandes

Aaron Gertler

Emma Handy

Raphaël Lévy

Seth Manfield

Gabriel Nassif

In the end, it came down to Austin Bursavich against Aaron Gertler. Here's how we got there.

The Upper Bracket

The match that jumped out from the quarterfinals was the pair of Hall of Famers facing off. Gabriel Nassif was making his incredible 14th Top Finish, while Seth Manfield was seeking a second straight trophy after winning the 2020 Mythic Invitational just a month before.

It turned out to be a lopsided affair. Nassif rolled to two straight victories over Manfield. The American had shocked the tournament field by making the Top 8 as the only Dimir Rogues player, but his draws never lined up against Nassif. The French legend moved on to the semifinals.

The third Hall of Famer battling in the Grand Finals quarterfinals was Raphaël Lévy, who had made his fifth career Top Finish by going on a winning streak late in the tournament. It was the experienced veteran versus Austin Bursavich, hot on the event with his third Top Finish in a year, for the first of what would be many Omnath mirrors.

Bursavich felt good about his deck, but it was the French MPL player who dominated the match, winning two quick games to advance to face Aaron Gertler, whose Omnath Adventures deck had edged out Emma Handy's Gruul Adventures.

That left just one other quarterfinal match, and it was Autumn Burchett carrying the torch of non-Omnath decks. They were taking on Patrick Fernandes, a new Brazilian star making a name for himself with a second Top Finish this weekend just two months after making the Top 8 of the Players Tour Finals. With a deck designed to try and cut Omnath down, Burchett left no doubt as their Gruul Adventures deck ran roughshod over Fernandes to propel them to the upper bracket semifinals.

That set up a trio of Omnath Adventures for the semifinals, with Burchett packing Gruul.

Both semifinal matches delivered on the action.

Burchett struck first against Nassif to go up a game, but it was the Hall of Famer who got the better in the end of a tight three-game match. Burchett and Handy had designed Gruul Adventures to beat Omnath decks, and while that plan had worked on Friday and Saturday, it came to an end in the Top 8 as Nassif knocked Burchett into the lower bracket.

One more match determined Nassif's opponent in the upper bracket finals, and it wouldn't disappoint. Lévy and Gertler turned in a wild back-and-forth Omnath mirror showdown that defined the final battles of the Top 8. Both players had access to all the life gain, mana, and cards they could want, and games tended to go long for more than a dozen turns as each jockeyed to stick the biggest threat.

In the end it was Gertler who emerged from the fracas, and found himself just one round shy of the championship match. To make it there, he'd have to defeat another Hall of Famer.

Another explosion of Omnath fireworks ensued, and while it a challenge to follow all the mana and triggers it also created edge-of-your-seat board swings.

In the end, it was his venerable Lucky Clover that delivered victory to the rising player. Gertler initially seemed an underdog to both Lévy and Nassif. After he won the Dreamhack Open in Anaheim earlier this year with an Adventures deck that's a close relative to the one he took the championship match, his performance across the upper bracket left no doubt about his Sunday stage prowess—much to his relief.

The Lower Bracket

That was just half the Top 8. Then it time to determine who would join Gertler in the Championship Match, and only one could survive the gauntlet through the lower bracket.

As play kicked off again it was clear, despite wins racked up by Dimir Rogues and Gruul Adventures through the Swiss rounds of Standard, that this day belonged to Omnath, Locus of Mana. Both Handy and Manfield dropped their rubber matches to Omnath players, sending Fernandes through to face Lévy, while Bursavich would face the only non-Omnath deck left, Burchett's Gruul Adventures.

Burchett was determined to thwart the Elemental villain of the weekend, but Bursavich wouldn't be denied. In three tense games, he played around Burchett's plethora of game-ending threats such as Embercleave and giagantic Brushfire Elementals.

Bursavich's Game 3 victory settled it: this would be an Omnath affair through to the end. And Bursavich, now the winner of two straight elimination matches, was still alive.

Meanwhile, Fernandes and Lévy were locked in their own battle. The pair traded games back and forth, and in the decider it was a pair of unanswered Edgewall Innkeepers that kept the gas flowing for Lévy, who was able to add a pair of Lucky Clovers and snowball his advantage from there.

That left just three players on the path to challenge Gertler in the Championship Match. Bursavich would play Lévy, and the winner would then face Nassif for the right to play for the title.

This event was bound to make history, and the match between Lévy and Bursavich continued a historic run for Bursavich. Over three long, close games, the American and French pros traded blows and resources. The stall stretched on and on until Bursavich did what became his trademark during this event: Fling a Beanstalk Giant at your face.

The thrilling victory did more than just create an instant classic. There's perhaps no better clip that demonstrates the feeling of winning with Fling versus the feeling of losing to Fling.

Three days of play, twelve Swiss rounds, and a grueling Top 8 narrowed to just Bursavich and Nassif to find out who would advance to the final match of the weekend.

By now, you know how the games went: both players ramped, traded Lotus Cobra and Omnath, Locus of Creation triggers, and, again, it came down to a third game. This one delivered drama that can only be done with Omnath Adventures decks.

In that decisive game, Bursavich used an early advantage to whittle Nassif's life down to 7. With plenty of mana and cards thanks to Escape to the Wilds, Nassif stared down 18 power and didn't blink.

However, he didn't account for Bursavich being the master of Fling. He chucked a lethal Beanstalk Giant at Nassif's life total, and when Bursavich had the clutch Negate to answer Nassif's own counterspell, the man whose back had been up against the wall since his first match of the day now found himself through to the championship match.

Austin Bursavich versus Aaron Gertler, two testing teammates playing decks they both knew would leave just one to claim the Grand Finals trophy.

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