2010 Magic: The Gathering World Championships Teams Round 1: The Blue and the ... Green?

Posted in Event Coverage on December 9, 2010

By Tim Willoughby

Slovak Republic vs. United States of America

There has been much talk of the resurgence of American Magic, with more American players in top 8s at Pro Tours in the last year than have been seen in some time. With America having navigated Standard fairly successfully this year, they were in great shape to make waves in the team competition. Their first team of opponents would not be an easy ride. The Slovak Republic squad includes Robert Jurkovic, who had a breakout performance at Worlds in 2009 and is one of the scarier players one might face on Magic Online.

The United States of America and the Slovak Republic are out to settle the score for a historical rivalry we just made up.

The team rounds, with three different formats, are worth plenty of points in the team competition, so the pressure was on both countries to perform.

Here are how the match-ups looked going in:

Extended: Conrad Kolos (Green-Black Elves) vs. Robert Jurkovic (Faeries)

Standard: Anthony Eason (Valakut Ramp) vs. Patrik Surab (Blue-Black Control)

Legacy: Josh Utter-Leyton (Elves) vs. Ivan Floch (White-Blue-Black Counterbalance)

Neither team escaped without mulligans, with only the Standard match seeing both teams starting on a full grip of cards. It soon became clear that the U.S.A. had made some decisive choices in deck building, with both Conrad Kolos and Josh Utter-Leyton playing Elves of one description or another. The Slovak Republic initially appeared to be blue-black all around. Only Eason was a dissenter to the archetype plan, with a Red-Green Valakut deck in Standard.

The most explosive start, perhaps unsurprisingly, came from Utter-Leyton in Legacy. He led off with Heritage Druid, and in spite of a quick Counterbalance / Sensei's Divining Top, was making waves with a big Regal Force. This met a Force of Will from Floch.

Over in the Extended match, Kolos was trading Thoughtseizes with Jurkovic, who seemed up on the battle, being able to get down a Bitterblossom. Jurkovic's blue-black Fae were doing better than the blue-black control plans of Patrik Surab, who was quickly facing down some loaded Khalni Heart Explorations and Overgrown Battlements from Eason.

Team Slovakia (L-R): Robert Jurkovic on Extended, Patrik Surab for Standard, and Ivan Floch playing Legacy.

The Legacy match was slowly going south for Utter-Leyton. Engineered Explosives for 1 cleared his board, and he had little in the way of plays for a number of turns. He went for it with a Vengevine, and started beating, but with a hand full of 1-cost Elves, was largely cold to the Counterbalance plan from the Slovaks. An Oblivion Ring on the 4/3 reinforced the Eastern European control in Legacy.

Kolos also looked to get in on the Vengevine action, with Fauna Shaman to start things moving. He was facing quite a clock in the air, thanks to Bitterblossom and a Mistbind Clique, but his Shaman was hanging around and able to fetch a Ranger of Eos, setting up for a potentially big turn. With a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Sword of the Meek from Ivan in the Legacy, things looked almost over for Game 1. In Standard, Eason too was losing momentum, as he wasn't able to power an Avenger of Zendikar through two copies of Mana Leak. Thopter Foundry in Legacy was enough to put the Slovak Republic up its first game.

The United States national team (L-R): Josh Utter-Leyton in the Legacy match, Anthony Eason playing Standard, and Conrad Kolos running Extended (and patriotism).

Eason drew a Valakut to make things interesting in Standard, and popped a pair of Khalni Heart Expedition in order to drop his opponent to just 8 before a Spreading Seas shut it off. Would he be able to get the final points? Jace, the Mind Sculptor seemed to think not. Surab began using Jace to keep track of the top card of Eason's deck, and followed up with a Grave Titan to let him go on offence for the first time in the match.

Extended was the place where the U.S.A. was looking strongest. That Fauna Shaman allowed for enough card advantage for Conrad Kolos to successfully race the air force of Jurkovic, helped in no small part by the Vengevines it fetched.

In Standard, Jace was up to 9 counters by the time Inferno Titan resolved for Eason. The U.S. team conferred a little about where to send the damage from it. A Grave Titan and a Jace were tempting targets, but so was Surab himself on just 8 life. After a little thought, a 2/2 Zombie got taken out, and Surab was reduced to 7, before Doom Blade offed Eason's 6/6. Surab got Jace all the way up to 11, then attacked Eason to 11 as well before playing a second Grave Titan. This was enough to get Eason scooping up his cards.

The Slovak Republic edged ahead.

Old Glory and the Slovak flag, which we assume has an equally colorful nickname.

Game 2 of Legacy saw Utter-Leyton landing a turn-two Survival of the Fittest. He saw a turn-two Counterbalance from his opponent, but if he started fetching Vengevines, that would not necessarily be so big a problem. Indeed this is exactly what happened, with three Vengevines hitting the grumper, and Utter-Leyton finding a Squee, Goblin Nabob to ensure he never ran out of fuel with his Survival. It was not long before Legacy went to the decider.

In Extended, Kolos's start was slow and not too steady, with a Devoted Druid meeting a Spellstutter Sprite, and Fauna Shaman taking a Doom Blade. Vendilion Clique made sure the way was safe for a Bitterblossom, really putting Kolos on the back foot. Here too, a quick reversal of fortune seemed to make a third game inevitable. Those flying tokens, along with targeted discard, made short work of the American, who was sporting a U.S.A. flag bandana, clearly proud to represent his country.

Game 3 of Standard was running a little slower. Early attempts at acceleration from Eason were halted by first a Doom Blade on Overgrown Battlement, then an Inquisition of Kozilek to take more ramp. Mana Leak on Explore compounded a slow start for Eason. Surab cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and was quick to start looking at the top of Eason's deck. When cards stayed there, things looked pretty back for the American. More copies of Inquisition of Kozilek ensured perfect information for the Slovak player: Eason's hand was chock full of expensive spells. Jace was well set to reinforce this problem.

Jace soon went ultimate, and with just four cards in his deck, all of which were either uncastable or useless, Anthony Eason was the first American to fall.

Kolos represents the U.S. of A. in the Extended match against the Slovak Republic's Robert Jurkovic.

Kolos was having a rough time in Extended, as again an early Bitterblossom joined forces with Vendilion Clique to apply pressure in the air. While Kolos tried to fend off the flying assault, his draws were not up to stopping the ever-growing army of Faerie tokens as they rumbled in.

The Legacy Game 3 was looking interesting. A turn-one Llanowar Elves was followed by an explosive turn two of Gaea's Cradle, Wirewood Symbiote, Llanowar Elves, and Fauna Shaman. With a Quirion Ranger, Utter-Leyton baited a Force of Will, and followed up with Viridian Shaman, to take out Sensei's Divining Top when Ivan was still stuck on a single land. Utter-Leyton had a Natural Order in hand, but, in the face of an anaemic defence, seemed hesitant to play it into what was potentially another Force of Will. Instead, he contented himself to fetching more Vengevines.

Unfortunately, regardless of how far ahead Utter-Leyton was in this match, ultimately it was all for naught. Progenitus via Natural Order was good enough to win the game and the Legacy match-up, but not the whole match, as Kolos fell to Robert Jurkovic to give the win to the Slovak Republic.

Slovak Republic defeats U.S.A., 2 matches to 1!

U.S.A. Deck Lists

Anthony Eason's Valakut Ramp

Download Arena Decklist

Conrad Kolos's

Download Arena Decklist

Josh Utter-Leyton's Elves

Download Arena Decklist

Slovak Republic Deck Lists

Patrik Surab's Blue-Black Control

Download Arena Decklist

Robert Jurkovic's Faeries

Download Arena Decklist

Ivan Floch's White-Blue-Black Counterbalance

Download Arena Decklist

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