Feature: It's a Whole New Tournament

Posted in Feature on August 17, 2012

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

Picture this.

Your team cruised through Day 1 of the World Magic Cup (Congratulations!). Your read on the Standard metagame was spot on and your sideboard was perfectly tuned for all of the Delver, Naya Pod, RUG Ramp, and Zombie decks out there. Everyone on your team torched the competition at 3–1 or better, and you're sitting high in the standings.

You even make it through the Team Sealed portion of the event, confidently making the Top 16 of the World Magic Cup with dreams of a trophy already nudging their way into your head. You spent most of your time testing Modern and Block Constructed for the Team Constructed portion of the event, confident in your Standard deck's results.

So you sit down for Round 11 mentally figuring you only need one win between Modern and Block Constructed, already chalking up the win for your sweet Standard deck. You even know what your opponent is playing, since you scouted thoroughly during the Standard portion on Day 1.That's when you hear it...

"Uh, guys. We have a problem."

Not expecting to see these cards in Standard? Maybe it's time to recalibrate.

You look down the table and your Standard pilot is staring at something completely unexpected, something you didn't see coming because it wasn't there yesterday. Something that could derail the visions of glory that had danced in your head.

You didn't count on change.

"It's a whole new tournament tomorrow," Czech Republic team captain Martin Juza said. "You have to see what's up."

The World Magic Cup is nothing if not unique. Besides being the first one ever held—as you might have heard once or eighty times so far today—the tournament is set up in a way that no tournament before it ever has been run. One of the unique twists is that Standard decks that players battle with on Day 2 do not need to be the same deck they played on Day 1.

(For a full rundown of how the tournament is run, check out Nate Price's overview.)

As a result, savvy players can look around the hall, get a read on what players brought this weekend, and change their decks for Day 2 to compensate for the metagame.

Of course, everyone else can do that, too.

"It's going to be a guessing game," Juza said. "Maybe there's a lot of Naya so everyone plays Ramp. But everyone else saw that too. So then maybe you play Esper, because it's good against Ramp."

Choose your own adventure.

It is, as Juza said, a whole different tournament tomorrow in an especially small field. With only sixteen teams making it to the Constructed portion of tomorrow's event, that means only sixteen Standard decks will be represented—a small sample size players could try and game given the opportunity.

For example, the metagame today consisted mostly of Delver, Naya Pod, Zombies, and RUG Ramp. There were a smattering of other decks, but, by and large, those four decks made up the bulk of the metagame. But what if, of the sixteen teams that make it to the Team Constructed cut, ten of them played Delver? Or maybe Naya? What then?

Complicating things even further is that even the most cohesive teams are typically not playing four copies of the same deck. Most teams seem to have adopted a "play what suits you" philosophy, letting players play decks they were most comfortable with as long as it was a top deck.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, for example, said one of his teammates was playing Naya Pod because he had been playing the deck for six months. In fact, all of the Brazilians are playing different decks.

"All of the decks are close in power level," Damo da Rosa said. "It just depends on who plays."

French team captain Raphael Levy agreed. "It's too early to say," Levy said. "I don't think it's going to change much."

Levy added that there were still a ton of factors to consider, the greatest of which was which player would be playing Standard. If you were paying attention during the overview article (you were, weren't you?), you might have noticed that one player from each of the teams moving on to Day 2 gets cut. Without knowing who that player is going to be, it's impossible to plan for who would play what decks.

For example, if the American team makes Day 2, but Luis Scott-Vargas is the only player on the team who feels comfortable playing Delver (just an example... he's not actually playing Delver), and he fails to make the cut for Day 2, then it makes it less likely the team is going to play Delver, even if it seems like the best metagame call.

So, to recap so far, players have to consider what other teams played on Day 1, which teams make Top 16, if they think those teams will make a change or stay put, AND who is playing which format, just to figure out what deck to play.

And then there's the sideboard.


"That's definitely important; probably most important," said Levy.

Not only will players need to adjust their sideboard for a new metagame, but they'll have four rounds today to test which sideboard cards work and which don't.

"We haven't played all of our sideboard cards," said Damo da Rosa. "We might have Blade Splicer for Zombies, but what if that isn't good enough?"

So all that teams need to figure out is what everyone played today, who makes the Top 16, how those teams will change their decks, who is playing what format, what deck each player will play, and how best to sideboard against those decks.

Simple, right?

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