2018 World Championship Preview

Posted in Competitive Gaming on September 20, 2018

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Brief, they said.

Succinct, they said.

Just the bullet points, they said.

No prolonged flight-of-fancy introductions, where you blow hundreds of words before you actually cut to the chase, they—


Hi. Rich Hagon here. Here's a guide to the World Championship:


Two answers to this, and they're both really sweet. (a) In Las Vegas, aka Sin Collector City, in the heart of the desert, USA. (b) Inside every Wi-Fi-capable device you own.


This week, for three days. Friday, then Saturday, and (gasp) Sunday. We start Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET/4 p.m. UTC, and then there's a super-special lie-in on Sunday morning, with a 9.30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC start time.


Six segments of epic Magic:

  1. Friday morning – Dominaria Draft, three rounds
  2. Friday afternoon – Standard Constructed, four rounds
  3. Saturday morning – Dominaria Draft, three rounds
  4. Saturday afternoon – Standard Constructed, four rounds
  5. Sunday morning – Team Series Championship, two (or maybe three) matches
  6. Sunday afternoon – World Championship Top 4, semifinals, and finals

Who? – Individual World Championship Edition

For the individual title, the assembled field features 24 of the best players in the world (plus eight more standouts waiting in the wings for the Team Series). The field is drawn from four categories:

  • Pro Tour Champions this season – Wyatt Darby (PT Dominaria), Ben Hull, Allen Wu, Greg Orange (PT 25th Anniversary), Seth Manfield (PT Ixalan), Luis Salvatto (PT Rivals of Ixalan);
  • Geo-Region Champions – Márcio Carvalho (Europe), Seth Manfield again (North America), Luis Salvatto again (Latin America), Ken Yukuhiro (Asia-Pacific);
  • The Masters – Matthew Severa (2017–18 Constructed Master), and Elias Watsfeldt (2017–18 Draft Master); and
  • Top Pro Point Earners – Brian Braun-Duin, Javier Dominguez, Reid Duke, Martin Jůza, Grzegorz Kowalski, Andrea Mengucci, Matthew Nass, Brad Nelson, John Rolf, Shahar Shenhar, Mike Sigrist, Ben Stark, Gerry Thompson, and Owen Turtenwald.

Usually, I would now write 3–4,000 words about the players. This time, I'll simply share this little nugget of statistical wisdom: We asked the players who the best four players in the tournament are. Four names came up over and over and over again:

Seth Manfield
Seth Manfield
Reid Duke
Reid Duke
Owen Turtenwald
Owen Turtenwald
Márcio Carvalho
Márcio Carvalho

So, if you want to know who the players think the favorites are going into this thing, there's your answer. Manfield's a former World Champion who just capped an amazing season that started with a Pro Tour victory and ended with a tie for Player of the Year with Luis Salvatto. Duke, Turtenwald, and Carvalho have all finished second in this event before and view this as the tournament to win to define their careers.

Who? – Team Series Championship Edition

Now, it's not just the individual tournament. Remember, Sunday sees the conclusion of the Team Series Championship, featuring these two stacked squads:

Hareruya Latin – Lucas Esper Berthoud, Márcio Carvalho, Sebastián Pozzo, Carlos Romão, Luis Salvatto, and Thiago Saporito.

Ultimate Guard Pro Team – Andrew Cuneo, Reid Duke, Jon Finkel, William Jensen, Paul Rietzl, and Owen Turtenwald.

Each Team of six will split into two Trios, and then spend a frantic Sunday morning building three 40-card decks using the brand-new Guilds of Ravnica set for Team Sealed play. Just like play at the World Magic Cup, you need to win two of the three matches against the opposing Trio to claim the overall round. If both winning Trios (A v A, B v B) come from the same squad, that's it—they're Team Series Champions. If the other team ties things up at 1-1, then the winning Trio from each squad battles it out in the decider.


We shouldn't ignore the fact that there's some serious cash on the line. $300,000 spreads through the individual tournament, with a cool six figures dropping to the winner on Sunday. Second still takes away $50,000, while seeing Sunday nets a guaranteed $25,000. For those not quite making it to the Top 4, there's still a ton on the line down the stretch on Saturday, with $10,000 for the Top 8, $5,000 for places 9–16, and the consolation of $2,500 for positions 17–24. Then there's the Team Series, with $102,000 shared between the winning outfit, and $51,000 to the vanquished finals opponents.


That's less a question about the players and more about the ways you all will get to experience the event. It all comes to you on twitch.tv/magic and this very website, with these fine folks bringing you every word and image:

Play-by-Play Commentators: Marshall Sutcliffe, Riley Knight, and Tim Willoughby
Color Commentators: Simon Görtzen and Paul Cheon
News Desk: Rich Hagon and Maria Bartholdi
Floor Reporter: Brian David-Marshall
Feature Match Spotters: Rashad Miller and Neil Rigby
Writer-Reporters: Marc Calderaro and Corbin Hosler
Content Managers/Editors: Mike Rosenberg and Chris Gleeson
Social Media: Meghan Wolff
Executive Producer: Greg Collins

Round-by-round content, decklists, articles, pairings, results and standings, and all the stuff you'd expect to find on a website will be located on the World Championship coverage page. Because of the unique nature of this event, Standard decklists will be posted on the site soon after the start of Round 4. In addition to our live video coverage on Twitch, the Japanese coverage team will be hosting live Japanese-language video on both Twitch and Nico Nico.

So, sure, there's $450,000 being dished out. There's also the ultimate in bragging rights, scores to be settled, Hall of Fame careers to be enhanced (and yes, Pro Tour Historian Brian David-Marshall will be announcing this year's Hall of Fame Class on Friday during the broadcast), and an avalanche of great plays, topdecks, and near misses.

But keep it short, they said.

Don't mess about, they said.

We don't pay you by the word, they said.

So . . .


Because Magic.

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