Last year at the Players Championship , sixteen of the game's best players battled it out for big prizes, eternal glory, and a much-coveted trophy. Just like this year, the players got to play six rounds of Booster Draft and six rounds of Constructed, followed by a Top 4 playoff. With sixteen of the game's best players packed into a single tournament, we saw top-level Magic in every single match. We witnessed incredible bluffs, full usage of all available information, impressive timing, creative uses of cards, and many more reasons why they were considered the sixteen greatest players of that year.
I selected three mind-blowing acts of brilliance from last year to give you an idea of what to expect this week during the 2013 Magic World Championship.
Juza tries to bluff Finkel (M13 draft)
In this match, Juza attacked with a 1/1 token (which grew into 2/2 due to Duty-Bound Dead) right into Finkel's 2/3 flying creature. This is a play that could only happen at a top-level event. Finkel knows that Juza wouldn't just throw away his creature for no reason. Indeed, Juza could have Crippling Blight, Kindled Fury, or Flames of the Firebrand to punish Finkel for blocking. Nevertheless, Finkel, being the master that he is, recognized that Juza had a great opportunity to bluff those cards, as Juza would only risk losing a 1/1 that wouldn't affect the game anyway due to Finkel's fliers. Finkel, being the master that he is, saw right through Juza's ploy, took the 1/1's attack, and won that game.
Finkel Mana Leaks into three untapped lands (Modern)
In this video, Iyanaga cast Lightning Bolt with Temple Garden, Stomping Ground, and Arid Mesa untapped. Finkel had a Mana Leak in hand. Typically, Mana Leak wouldn't do much in that position. However, all players had access to each other's Modern decklists beforehand (and the same will be true for the players this weekend). This full information allowed an incredible play that wouldn't be possible otherwise: Finkel, armed with knowledge of Iyanaga's decklist, knew that Iyanaga didn't have a land left in his deck to get with Arid Mesa, and recognized that this turned his Mana Leak into a viable counter. It was truly a case of full information pushed to the extreme.
Juza and Kibler give a masterclass in timing and all the possible uses for their cards (Modern)
Game 3 of this match between Juza and Kibler was possibly one of the best games at the entire tournament last year. Watching the entire game is wholeheartedly recommended if you have the time. But for the sake of brevity, let's stick to turns one through five, during which both Juza and Kibler made excellent decision after excellent decision. Specifically, they went against established timings and card uses.
Now usually, you discard an expensive high-impact card with Thoughtseize, or play Vendilion Clique in the opponent's draw step targeting the opponent, or target an opponent's creature with Path to Exile. Not this game. Let me explain why.
On Juza's turn one, Juza didn't discard an expensive high-impact card with Thoughtseize. Instead, he chose Remand because he was low on lands. Juza recognized that as a result of being low on lands, the power of Remand changes, effectively becoming a hard counter that draws a card since Juza would have no time to ever re-cast the spell Remand hit. As a result, Juza discarded the two mana counter.
On Juza's turns three and four, Kibler did not play Vendilion Clique in Juza's draw step. Instead, he played it at the end of Juza's turn to get around sorcery speed removal such as Liliana of the Veil. Moreover, he targeted himself with Vendilion Clique in order to deny Juza a possible land. It was a play of great timing and clever thinking.
Last year, we were taught how to play this game by the best of the best. They knew what cards each player has in his deck, fully grasped the current game state, visualized several turns ahead, saw all the possibilities, and made the correct decisions.
At times like these, we get to see how Magic should be played. This year's Magic World Championship should also feature plenty of amazing plays, and we'll try to highlight some of them throughout the week.