1998 World Championships
Team Competition Recap
Going into the last day of the team championships, the favored team of the competition, USA (153), led Team Germany (151) by a slim margin of only two points. Team Finland (150) was the next closest and it looked like these teams would be battling it out all day long to see which two would fight in the last round for the team title. With six points being awarded for a win instead of the customary three, teams could sweep an opponent in order to leap tremendous bounds in the game of catchup.
Throughout the course of the tournament, Team USA held strong, but they weren't particularly impressive. Feeling that their packs weren't the greatest collection of 5th edition starters, they made due with what they had. Playing slightly above average over the first five rounds, Team USA almost faltered and failed in the final round, as Team Canada put the hurting on them, going 3-0-1 against the Americans. If not for a timely Mike Long draw against Nick Chen, Canada would have had a huge year of bragging rights. As it is, Team USA won't hear the end of it for a very long time. Not knowing that Team Germany failed to the the perfect record needed to surpass them, all the US players sat by helplessly as Long fought to the draw. At the conclusion of the match, the United States learned they had barely squeezed into the finals by a mere 4 points.
The real surprise of the tournament had to be Team France, who came out of nowhere (138) to capture the Swiss portion by the end of the day, setting up a showdown with the United States. The French were absolutely unstoppable during the Swiss team construction portion, beginning the day 15 points behind the USA, and ending the day an astonishing 29 points ahead (winning 7 matches more than the United States during the last day).
Team Germany, beginning the day in third place, found themselves in the same position at the end of the day. Though they put on a strong 3-1 finish against Team Spain in the final round, they needed a perfect 4-0 to surpass the Americans for a final showdown against the French.
Team Finland, third at the start of the last day, had a disappointing finish, dropping out of the money and ending the day in sixth place. Team Canada, who individually had horrible first day during the draft, came back strong, using their 3-0-1 finish against the United States in the last round to barely break the money in 4th place.
Team USA vs Team France
Each team has elected two of its members to play the type 2 bracket. Bryce Currence and Matt Linde would face Pierre Malherbaud and Fabien Demazeau.
Demazeau elected to play a very original Sliver deck, using virtually no non-Sliver cards at all. While this strategy can be argued with, Demazeau did go 9-0 through the constructed portion of French nationals to win the event. Demazeau would face U.S. national champion Matt Linde playing a Sligh deck.
Linde started off very well, casting a Jackal Pup and removing Demazeau's City of Brass with Wasteland. Demazeau, forced to take damage from his own non-basic lands as well as Linde's creatures, quickly went down on life points. Linde was able to finish him off with a Cursed Scroll.
Game two was lightning fast, with Linde being able to remove all of Demazeau's land with his Wastelands. Several turns later Linde defeated his opponent, who had no permanents on the table.
Pierre Malherbaud went with a mono-blue "Draw-Go" control deck. Popular outside of the U.S., it was referred to by Jon Finkel as "thinking European's deck". He was facing Bryce Currence, who chose to play a Survival of the Fittest/Recurring Nightmare deck. In game one Currence was able to get several small creatures through the counterspells. Malherbaud laid Disks twice, but both times Currence was able to remove them with his Uktabi Orangutans. Currence soon won the match by dealing enough damage with his Spike Feeder and Uktabi Orangutan.
While Malherbaud had established control in the second game, it was stopped by the judges since team USA won the other matches 3-0 and so the result of this match would be irrelevant to the tournament.
"We may not have done very well in the finals," says French national finalist Manuel Bevand, "but I think we were able to dispel the belief that french players are not very good at limited by just making the finals"