2009 Magic World Championships Blog: Day 1

Posted in Event Coverage on November 19, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

Welcome to the 2009 Magic World Championships! The crack reporting squad of Bill Stark, Rich Hagon, Dave Guskin, Tim Willoughby, and Craig Gibson are combing the halls of the Palazzo Dei Congressi for all the inside information.



Thursday, 11:06 a.m. – Cards We Did Not Expect to See, Part 1

by Tim Willoughby

Walking around the play tables here in Rome, there are plenty of familiar faces. World Champions past abound, and in Round 1, the nervous tension that permeates the room at the start of a big tournament is as palpable as ever. Everyone wants to get that first win under their belts and start off this marathon event the right way. For less than 50% of Round 1 players will things work out that way.

With so many formats to work with, and a Standard format that has been explored quite a bit, it is unsurprising that there are familiar cards in the hands of many of the pros for this competition. Broodmate Dragon, Baneslayer Angel, and even Behemoth Sledge are not exactly new faces on the tournament Magic scene (that last one has been spotted in a spicy green-white concoction favoured by a number of pros).

As I weaved my way between players, I was looking for something a little different. Can a card be a story? I was certainly hoping so, and over the course of the event, I’ll be looking for cards that exist on the fringes of what is typically being played, trying to find those cards which might prove nasty surprises for some so that they are not nasty surprises for you.

Spreading Seas

The first of these is an innocuous-looking Aura from Zendikar that often sits on the sidelines in a lot of players’ Limited decks, let alone their 60-card stacks. Spreading Seas is likely not a card being played by many in Standard right now, but for this metagame, at least one player is running it, and it seems just fine.

Blue is a little down in the dumps right now. It has a weaker base of countermagic than it has had in previous years, and many players have moved onto aggressive strategies elsewhere on the colour pie. Jund is a popular choice in the room, and Spreading Seas is an interesting card employed in the Unearth deck as a way of slowing it down just a touch.

Jund is a fearsome opponent for many decks in Standard right now, but it does occasionally get clunky mana draws. With so many coloured mana symbols in its costs, even normal draws will leave pilots of the deck with tricky starts, where their initial opponent is their mana base. Now imagine that your lovely Savage Lands gets turned into a fundamentally more civilised Island on turn two, while your opponent draws a card. That is a virtual Time Walk right there, against a deck more typically taking the initiative with Blightning and Bloodbraid Elf.

Will the Spreading Seas plan become more widespread? Hard to say, but it does look like a canny choice given the field here in Rome.

Thursday, 12:29 p.m. – Setting the Table: Day One

by Rich Hagon

Imagine juggling three balls in the air. Quite a few of you may be able to do this. How about four? Four is a bit trickier for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s, well, more than three, and second, because it requires a fundamentally different technique to three. How about five balls? Bizarrely, this can be a bit easier than four, because you get to do your original technique for three, only faster. A lot faster.

Now you get to play along at home, as we here at magicthegathering.com attempt to keep seven or eight balls in the air simultaneously whilst riding unicycles across the high wire on the back of an elephant, singing multiple National anthems in nine-part harmony. Yes, it’s the four most mind-boggling, brain-frying, pulse-pounding, cortex-thrilling days of the Magic year. How do we survive the maelstrom? We plan. And now you can plan too, with our daily guide to the utter carnage. Coverage junkies, start your engines ....

Individual World Championship

Let’s start with the nuts and bolts. 409 players arrive for Round 1, facing a total of eighteen rounds across three days and three formats: Standard, Zendikar Draft, and Extended. Every win gets you 3 points, a draw gets you 1, and you earn a big fat 0 for failing to hand your opponent a whuppin’. Or something. At the end of Saturday, the Top 8 players will advance to the Sunday showdown, where they use exactly the same Standard deck, card for card, with which they began the tournament.

Today: Rounds 1-6, all Standard.

Team World Championship

While there are some nations with a lone representative, all the entries in the team event comprise three members. These are usually the top three finishers from the respective National Championships held earlier in the year, with slots on the team filtering down in the event that one of those players can’t make it to Rome. (This is one of the reasons the 4th placed finisher is invited to Worlds automatically as the Alternate.) Every point the three members accrue during the 18 rounds of the individual event are combined to form the basis of a team score. As a result of this, no team member can be drawn against another player from his own team, which means, for example, that a showdown between Yuuya Watanabe and Shuhei Nakamura (which would be a marquee match-up at any event) won’t be happening this week.

In addition to the 18 individual rounds, the teams have a portion of the event set aside just for them. In the four team rounds, the three members compete directly against an opposing nation, and each player represents one of three Constructed formats. For the teams, this means Standard, Extended, and Legacy. Each team round is a winner-take-all affair, where the overall winning team over the three matches, whether by 2-1 or a clean 3-0 sweep, gets a full 9 points. In total, therefore, there are 36 points up for grabs in the unique team portion.

On Saturday night, the Top 4 teams will advance to Sunday play, paired one against four, and two against three, in the Semifinals. They use the same three-format decks as earlier in the week. Then comes the Final, which you can see live on our Sunday webcast, with Pro Tour Historian Brian David-Marshall and Hall of Famer Randy Buehler.

Today: Six individual rounds, then two team rounds.

Magic Online World Championship

Through the year, seven season of Online play have led to the winners of the Magic Online Championship series. Those seven join us here at Worlds to take on the eighth member of the group, Magic Online Player of the Year Shouta Yasooka of Japan. He just happens to be the 2006 Player of the Year “in real life,” so he’s a massive favorite coming in to this one.

Since some of the eight are playing in the World Championship itself, play in this event is scheduled for each evening, ensuring over twelve hours of top-level Magic each day. They play three different formats. Classic involves a Constructed deck built from any of the cards available on Magic Online. Zendikar Draft is just like the real thing, and so is Standard. At the end of the nine rounds across three days, the top two will shoot it out on Sunday. Whilst they play with Standard once more, they’re allowed to switch decks before the Final, making for a fascinating head-to-head metagame.

Today: Three rounds of Online Classic, taking place after the main event.

Player of the Year Race

This, the ultimate prize in Magic, goes to the player with the most pro points across the entire season. That began at Grand Prix–Los Angeles. Eighteen Grand Prix, three Pro Tours, and every National Championship later, it concludes here at Worlds. Coming into Worlds, the standings look like this:

1. Yuuya Watanabe (Japan) 72
2. Tomaharu Saitou (Japan) 59
3. Martin Juza (Czech Republic) 59
4. Gabriel Nassif (France) 55
5. Shuhei Nakamura (Japan) 50
6. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Brazil) 48
7. Luis Scott-Vargas (USA) 48

Now you’re going to have to trust me on this one, but Luis Scott-Vargas can’t win the title, and Paulo can, even though they have the same points. That’s because Paulo shares something in common with Watanabe and Nakamura, namely that they’re on their respective National teams. With up to six points available from that competition, Paulo has a maximum yield this weekend of a massive 31 points—6 for winning the Team Championship, and 25 for winning the Individual. In fact, now might be a pretty good time to show you the points breakdown:

Individual Team (per member)
Place Pro Points Place Pro Points
1 25 1 6
2 20 2 5
3-4 16 4-7 4
5-8 12 5-8 3
9-16 8 9-12 2
17-24 7 13-16 1
25-32 6
33-64 5
65-100 4
101-200 3

As you can clearly see, Watanabe is in the box seat, with 13 points a substantial lead. Whilst nothing in Magic is certain, few expect a phenomenal Japanese team to generate less than 3 points, and with the 2 points he acquires for starting Round 1, Watanabe’s lead looks to some to be insurmountable. While the convolutions and permutations are many, keep this thought front and center: if they’re going to win Player of the Year, Watanabe’s rivals need to make Top 8 to even begin contemplating lifting the trophy.

Today: All play six rounds of Standard. Watanabe and Nakamura play two team rounds for Japan, Paulo plays for Brazil.

Rookie of the Year

This title goes to the top player who debuted on the Pro Tour during the year. With so many points available, this always goes right down to the wire, and a near-unheralded candidate usually arrives on Sunday with a shot at the title, en route to the main championship itself. Last year, that man was Hannes Kerem, the 2008 Estonian National Champion, who blitzed his way through the field in Memphis, falling just before the line and leaving Australian Aaron Nicastri to claim the title.

This year, things are as tight as ever. While nobody sane would presume to make predictions in a race as open as this, Akimasa Yamamoto of Japan, and Germany’s Lino Burgold are among the front-runners, while rising American star Brad Nelson boosted his chances with a Top 8 finish at the final Grand Prix of the season last weekend in Minneapolis.

Today: Play in the individual competition, six rounds of Standard.

... And More

So, there you have it—your cut-out-and-keep guide to Day One of Worlds. Well, when I say that, I mean the bit of Worlds where career reputations are made. As for the other 90% of the incredible festival that’s going on here, I’ll be back later in the day, reporting from the awesome Worlds of Public Events.

The lights dim, the ringmaster steps into the spotlight, the band strikes up .... Let the circus begin!

Thursday, 1:52 p.m. – Catching up with the HoFers

by Bill Stark

Mike TurianThe World Championships bring with them the trappings of each and every Pro Tour: the bright lights, the stage, the big names. But alongside the other festivities is the induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame. This year’s class was a big one—or, well, a small one, but all three new inductees were big names, as Frank Karsten, Kamiel Cornelissen, and Antoine Ruel joined hallowed ranks—but they were not the only Hall members in attendance. Here is a rundown of who’s here with thoughts from a few, and we’ll be checking in at the end of each day on how the Hall of Famers who are competing are doing in the main event.

Mike Turian, a member of Wizards R&D, isn’t competing this weekend but rather came as a part of the Champion Challenge. When asked why he decided to come to Worlds this year, he said, “The free trip?” while flashing his characteristic grin. “It’s exciting seeing the Hall of Fame busts on display. I’m doing the Champion Challenge for hours each day.” Mike was a member of the 2008 Hall of Fame class. Joining Mike in the Champion’s Challenge ring are Olle Rade and Darwin Kastle, both from the class of 2005. They’ll be available all weekend long to play against any competitor interested in taking a shot at battling a Hall of Famer in between rounds.

A fresh inductee, 2009’s Frank Karsten, was competing at the event after Top 8ing Worlds in Memphis just a year before. “[Being in the Hall] is a huge honor. It feels great. Magic has been a big part of my life for 10 years and it feels wonderful to be recognized as one of the game’s best or most influential players.” He was one of many active pros selected to the Hall, including a handful of French players.

Frank Karsten and Raphael Levy

Raphael Levy was the first of that group to join the Hall’s ranks in 2006, a member of the second class ever. What does being in the Hall mean to him? “It means being a player who can be referred to as a good player.”

Antoine and Olivier Ruel

Antoine and Olivier Ruel followed their countryman into the Hall in 2008 and 2009, the first pair of siblings to earn that honor. Which was more significant for each of them, being inducted or watching as his brother was? “I regret we were not inducted in the same year,” Olivier replied, before adding, when pressed: “If we were inducted at the same time it would be equal, but I guess my induction was slightly better.” His brother also had a hard time answering the question. “I’m very happy we’re both in the Hall of Fame, but it’s an individual honor. I’d say it’s about equal. I was very happy last year, but it felt about the same.”

One of the Hall’s most famous players is the legendary Kai Budde, and he made the short trip from Hamburg, Germany to Rome to battle this weekend. What do the World Championships mean to him? “I try to play all of the World Championships, but the traveling bores me. I still like to play Magic, even just for fun.”

Kai Budde and Randy Buehler

The Americans at the event this weekend from the Hall include Rob Dougherty, Ben Rubin, and Randy Buehler. Rob and Ben are both competing in the main event, while Randy is enjoying what he has said will be his final Pro Tour as a member of the event coverage team. What does Worlds mean to him? “Well, it’s the culmination of a bunch of storylines from throughout the year, not to mention a half-dozen titles given out over a handful of days.”

Rob Dougherty and Ben Rubin

Finally, we chatted with Kamiel Cornelissen on what it was like to be honored this year. The usually quiet Dutch player was happy to share his thoughts on the ceremony. “It was cool. It’s an honor to be in there because there are so many good players in there.”

“Kamiel CornelissenFor those keeping tally at home, here is the complete list of Hall of Famers in attendance this weekend:

Class of 2005
Darwin Kastle
Olle Rade

Class of 2006
Raphael Levy*
Rob Dougherty*

Class of 2007
Kai Budde*
Randy Buehler

Class of 2008
Mike Turian
Olivier Ruel*
Ben Rubin*

Class of 2009
Antoine Ruel*
Frank Karsten*
Kamiel Cornelissen*

* denotes player competing in the World Championships

Thursday, 2:47 p.m. – Cards We Did Not Expect To See, Part 2: The Revenge

by Tim Willoughby

Rite of Replication

Now, what with Zendikar having been around for a little while now, I’m sure we all have our own little stories about Rite of Replication. When you cast it with kicker, silly things tend to happen. Mine involves winning in spite of my opponent casting it with kicker on my Kazuul Warlord. Paul Reitzl’s involves casting it on his opponent’s Ondu Cleric, and not even having to do the math for all the life gain, as a helpful bystander pointed out, firstly, that it is 125 life and, secondly, that it happens on Magic Online “all the time.”

What we didn’t really expect to see was Rite of Replication being cast with kicker a great deal in today’s Standard. Much like Tooth and Nail before it, many a deck builder was left looking at the card and thinking “nine mana is a lot!” Lo and behold, though, there is a deck running it, and it is one of the ones that has an abundance of good targets whether it kicks it or not.

The Summoning Trap deck is all about getting fatties into play and asking opponents to try to deal. Sphinx of the Steel Wind is a big game on his own, so even if it only doubles up, it can pose quite a problem for many decks. If there are ever six of them, it is almost certainly game over, which is what one might hope for a nine mana spell.

The only thing to remember playing Rite of Replication in the Summoning Trap deck is something that Rich Hagon related to me that he’d seen in a Zendikar release event he’d played online. It doesn’t work with Iona, Shield of Emeria the way that you want it too. While all too briefly there was a second that Rich thought he would be unable to cast any coloured spell, the legend rule was in that case his best friend.

Thursday, 3:18 p.m. – Catching up with Kai Budde

by Bill Stark

To this point in Magic history, no player has ever had the run Kai Budde had at the turn of the century. Pro Tour after Pro Tour he emerged victorious, defying odds and conventional wisdom time and time again to win at the world’s highest levels. In 2007, the first year he was eligible, he became a unanimous inclusion into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. To this day he is considered one of the top two players of all time and, for Worlds 2009 he was in attendance competing. The coverage team took a second to check in with the game’s great to see what he’s been up to and to chat with him about the Hall of Fame and the World Championships in general.

What made you decide to come to the World Championships this year?

“Kai BuddeI try to play all of the World Championships. I’ve only missed the one in Memphis. I mean, basically the traveling bores me. I still like to play Magic; it’s still fun. I’m mostly playing it for fun these days. I don’t have any expectation to win or anything. I didn’t test any Extended, for example, but European Pro Tours are very close to me. For example, Rome is only a three-hour flight from Germany.

What are you doing these days outside of Magic?

I have a regular office job, but part of the job requires me to work on weekends, which is very bad when it comes to Magic tournaments. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t get that many weekends off.

Is that what sort of drew you away from the game?

I was kind of burned out. I just didn’t want to test anymore. It was also because Marco [Blume] and Dirk [Baberowski] quit. There was pretty much no one I could test with anymore. I went to a couple of Pro Tours where I was completely unprepared. I’m still a pretty competitive guy, and when I realized I didn’t really have a shot at winning without getting insanely lucky, I just felt it wasn’t worth going anymore.

Do you see in the future playing more competitively again?

There’s a chance.

What did being included in the Hall of Fame mean for you personally as a player?

It meant that I was being recognized for what I did in the game. It felt good to be up there with the other guys; that was nice. I really like having the invites. If I want to go somewhere I can just go there without having to play Qualifiers. Generally, I would probably play Qualifiers if I had a normal job. I still know most of the people in Hamburg, but I have to work on weekends so I just can’t do that sort of thing. It’s mainly the qualification thing that I like best.

There’s an age-old battle between Kai Budde and Jon Finkel being “the best.” Since being selected to the Hall of Fame, Jon has won an additional Pro Tour [Pro Tour–Kuala Lumpur]. Do you ever feel competitive about that now?

No, I don’t. Jon is a great player; I think I’m a great player. I don’t think you can say there is a “best” player. If you would go after who is more talented, I think it’s Jon. The way he approaches .... For example, we once played at an Invitational this strange draft format. It was basically Fact of Fiction style of draft and he completely outplayed me. He understood what it was about, the aspect behind the cards. It was a special set of cards from Mark Rosewater, and I don’t think Mark even planned it like that. Jon just understood it and crushed me in the draft by making my deck somewhat unplayable. I would definitely think he’s the more talented player, but there’s more to that in Magic.

So how would you answer the question “Who is better, Jon or Kai”?

I wouldn’t answer it. I don’t think it’s possible. There’s a large amount of luck involved, there’s too many different formats ... I don’t think you can answer that question.

How do you feel about your prospects this weekend?

I mean ... I’m 2-0, and I like my deck, but it’s still Jund. Everyone is either playing Jund or thinking they can beat it. I don’t think the decks that think they can beat it beat it as much as they think they do. Still, I can easily lose the next four rounds; there’s nothing I can do.

If you did Top 8, what would that mean to you?

As every other Top 8, I would obviously be very happy and excited about it.

Thursday, 3:40 p.m. – The Deadliest Catch

by Dave Guskin

After three rounds of Standard play, the cream of the crop has risen to the top. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the view from the top tables is that the previous lord of the manor, Jund, has some stiff competition. For every Jund deck in the undefeated section, there were an equal number of base green-white midrange decks packing the hate in the form of Baneslayer Angel, mana acceleration, and Behemoth Sledge.

Baneslayer Angel
Behemoth Sledge

These midrange predators were not the only ones trying to put the black-red-green menace in its place; among the other top decks were numerous “Boros Bushwhacker” decks sporting full complements of landfall commons Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede. When you load your deck with fetch lands, it’s pretty easy to get those animals up to epic size.

Steppe Lynx
Plated Geopede

There were still a few decks off the beaten path, vying for king of the hill. A sprinkling of Five-Color Control decks had put Wall of Denial in the way of Bloodbraid Elf and Baneslayer Angel alike. A Pyromancer Ascension combo deck’s pilot pondered his chances to burn his way through the competition. Nissa Revane and her elfkind took their perennial trip to the Eldrazi Monument as one hopeful player continued the little green beats at 3-0.

Wall of Denial
Nissa Revane

Finally, at table 3, Brandon Lau continued his Blue-Black Crypt Combo deck’s masterful run, winning a game against his opponent’s full board and life total with a Crypt of Agadeem, a Hedron Crab, and a graveyard full of black creatures. His turn went: tap Crypt for 11, spend some of it for Corpse Connoisseur into Fatestitcher into another Crypt activation, then unearth 21 power worth of hasty Grixis denizens, starting with Kederekt Leviathan to clear the path. His attack left his opponent speechless, and very dead.

Crypt of Agadeem
Hedron Crab

Thursday, November 19, 4:05 p.m. – Level Up

by Rich Hagon

So you already know that there are massive events going on here at Worlds. What makes the mosaic so fascinating is that every individual piece has a story attached. They may not be in contention for Player of the Year, and they may only hope to become World Champion in their more fanciful moments, but there are hundreds of players here, each hoping to fulfill a variety of personal goals.

At the core of this “all to play for” idea is the Pro Club system, which rewards players for their success through the year. Undoubtedly the first big staging post on the ascent to the elite of the game is Level 4. Whilst this grants you three byes at every Grand Prix, and automatic qualification to your National Championship, what really makes Level 4 matter so much is a succession of so-called “Blue Envelopes” dropping through your door. Yes, Level 4 is the gateway to the Pro Tour, as you’re automatically included on the Invite List for the following year.

You need 20 points to reach the official land of the Pro, and getting to 20 is the ultimate goal for a stack of players this weekend. The reigning World Champion Antti Malin of Finland needs to reach the Top 200 to secure Pro status for next year, and that’s also true for 2006 Player of the Year Shouta Yasooka, Brazil’s Carlos Romao, and Ari Lax of the USA.

“Carlos Romao, Shouta Yasooka, and Ari Lax need to reach the Top 200 to remain at Level 4.

Needing to reach the Top 100 are Matthias Kunzler, Adam Yurchick, Grand Prix winner Mateusz Kopec, and England’s Mark Glenister. Another notch up from that, needing top 64, are Pro Tour Honolulu Champion Mark Herberholz, Japan’s Shuu Komuro, and The Tezzerator himself, Kenny Öberg of Sweden.

Now we’re into the realms of players who are in really significant danger of losing their Pro status for 2010. It’s hard to believe that Marijn Lybaert is in trouble, but the numbers tell a different story. Along with Rookie of the Year Aaron Nicastri, and long-time Czech man Arnost Zidek, Marijn must hit the Top 24 here to reach the safety of 20 points. Bram Snepvangers fell off the Pro Tour train at Worlds in 2007, and is in danger of the same fate befalling him two years later. Just like Akira Asahara (Top 8 of Worlds last year), and Denmark’s Rasmus Sibast, he must make the Top 16.

And then come the names for whom nothing less than Sunday action will suffice. Two well-known Americans reside here, in the form of Gerard Fabiano and Brandon Scheel. Scheel was ultra-consistent in 2008, but less so this year, while Gfabs would be a definite loss to the Tour should he fail in this Herculean task. Perhaps most surprising of all is Frenchman Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. It’s only two years since Wafo-Tapa was at the pinnacle of the game, winning Pro Tour–Yokohama, and being widely regarded as the best deck builder in the world. Now, he must return to the Top 8, or his time as a Pro is, at least temporarily, done.

“Marijn Lybaert and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, despite being Pro Tour mainstays, have harder fights to stay at Level 4.

The next big step up is to Level 6 at 30 points, where the exclusive Club members get airfare paid to a Pro Tour of their choice, plus $1,250 appearance fee. Starting off with $5,000 in your pocket is not, as they say, shabby. Two Germans who are looking to make this list are Sebastian Thaler and Lino Burgold, needing to make the Top 100 and Top 64 respectively. However, both are likely to be hugely helped by the fact that they are on the National team, which should, with a prevailing wind, generate some points. Mike Jacob and Tom Ross, both of the USA, will look towards the Top 32 to take them into the big leagues, while Matteo Orsini-Jones, avoiding a Round 1 game loss for tardiness by approximately 2.8 seconds, needs a similar outcome.

“Tom Ross, Matteo Orsini-Jones, and Michael Jacob all need to make Top 32 if they’re going to hit Level 6 for next year.

With 40 points, Level 7 is heading towards the top of the global pyramid, and most of the players who are looking towards this Level are in need of some serious performances. The best-placed to reach it is Koutarou Ootsuka of Japan, who can crack it by making the Top 32. Compatriot Shingou Kurihara, a contender for Player of the Year in 2007, needs Top 24, while the runner-up from Pro Tour–Honolulu, Michal Hebky, must find himself in the Top 16 come Saturday night. As for Sunday, an appearance in the Quarterfinals would seal Level 7 for both the innovative deck builder Conley Woods and the French Hall of Famer Olivier Ruel.

“Conley Woods, Michal Hebky, and Koutarou Ootsuka are gunning for the prestigious Level 7 in the Pro Players Club.

That brings us to the elite of the game at Level 8. With airfare and hotel paid for at every Pro Tour, a $500 Grand Prix appearance fee, and a whopping $2,250 appearance fee at every Pro Tour, reaching the massive 50 point goal is well, well worth it. Seven players already have this elite status guaranteed for next year: Yuuya Watanabe, Tomoharu Saito, Shuhei Nakamura, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Luis Scott-Vargas, Gabriel Nassif, and Martin Juza.

Four players will have realistic ambitions of joining them. For Kazuya Mitamura, winner of Pro Tour–Honolulu, anything other than a horrible result will see him home, since Top 200 is all he needs. Gaudenis Vidugiris has been a classic example of the “play the game, see the world” mantra, and Top 64 here would be a deserved reward for a ton of travel and hard work on his already-strong game.

One of the undoubted superstars of this season has been Brian Kibler, and a Top 32 finish would set him up in great shape for a global run next year. That leaves his Pro Tour–Austin Finals opponent, Tsuyoshi Ikeda, who must return to Sunday play if he is to achieve membership of the ultimate club.

So, that’s 41 out of the 409. In the main event. Plus the 1,000 or more who have their own stories to tell from Public Events. Worlds 2009, now if only there was something to write about ....

Thursday, November 19, 5:37 p.m. – Cards We Did Not Expect to See, Part 3: Living the Dream Warriors

by Tim Willoughby

One card we were expecting to see plenty of this weekend was Baneslayer Angel, and we were not disappointed. In Standard she is one of the biggest threats around, and Kibler showed us in Austin that she is just fine in Extended too, meaning that there’s a good shot at our getting a double dose of protection from Dragons.

Different players have taken different approaches to dealing with the 5/5 menace. Malakir Bloodwitch has proven popular for many players, with the Bloodwitch evoking fond memories of Ihsan’s Shade from around the start of the Pro Tour. A fatty with protection from white is just the tool in black’s arsenal to make life tricky for many opponents. It doesn’t die to Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, or Doom Blade, and it can beat just fine.

Malakir Bloodwitch isn’t the card I want to talk about in this segment, though. The Bloodwitch is a cat that never got into the bag in the first place. No, the card next card that stood out as something a little different is Aven Mimeomancer.

Aven Mimeomancer

This innocuous-looking 3/1 has a whole host of applications in a format as full of fatties as the current Standard. On offence he can make teams difficult to block, and on D, he can take such thoroughly awkward-to deal-with creatures as Baneslayer Angel, and make them a much more manageable size. Given that the deck we’ve seen it in runs the Angel itself, it is a way of generating lasting advantage in Angel wars.

With Angel wars becoming more common, an other rather cute answer that a number of players are running is Akrasan Squire. In decks with Ranger of Eos, the one-of is easy enough to fetch out, and means that the owner of the Squire can always be ahead in any Angel fights that go on while the innocuous-looking exalted 1/1 sits on the battlefield.

Thursday, November 19, 9:12 p.m. – Hall of Famer on Day 1

by Bill Stark

At the start of the World Championships, we updated you on the Hall of Fame ceremonies, including detailing a number of Hall of Famers who are competing in the main event. As Day 1 draws to a close, we’re bringing you an update on how those players are doing. Here’s a reminder of who “they” are:

  • Kamiel Cornelissen
  • Ben Rubin
  • Rob Dougherty
  • Kai Budde
  • Raphael Levy
  • Olivier Ruel
  • Antoine Ruel
  • Frank Karsten

At the conclusion of the Swiss, it was Raphael Levy in the lead for the group. He finished in 96th place with two days to go, amassing a record of 4-2. Virtually tied for that position was his fellow countryman Olivier Ruel, also 4-2 but in 137th, the bottom of the 12-pointers. Immediately on his heels was Dutchman Frank Karsten in 138th, a draw keeping him from 4-2 at 3-2-1, and leaving him with only 11 points instead of 12.

Four players had managed 3-3 performances and they were, in order, Rob Dougherty, Kai Budde, Kamiel Cornelissen, and Ben Rubin. They were in 152nd, 164th, 202nd, and 231st, respectively. Bringing up the rear was Antoine Ruel, in 370th with an ignominious 3 points. No doubt it was not the start to his Hall of Fame induction weekend that Antoine had been looking for!

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November 29, 2021

Historic at the Innistrad Championship by, Mani Davoudi

Throughout the last competitive season, we watched as Standard and Historic took the spotlight, being featured throughout the League Weekends and Championships. The formats evolved with e...

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