The Road to France

Posted in Competitive Gaming on November 5, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

In four weeks, while you will be reading this column, I'll be deep in the latter half of Day Two for the 2014 World Championship in Nice, France. There, 24 of the world's best players will be wrapping up their final few rounds of Standard Constructed, after having battled in three rounds of Vintage Masters —using packs constructed by real cards. And that is after four rounds of Modern the previous day, as well as three rounds of Khans of Tarkir Booster Draft earlier in Day Two.

In four weeks, I also suspect that many of you will be following along at home, as we stream the World Championship as well as the 2014 World Magic Cup in their entirety on Twitch.

You'll be joining us, won't you? After all, both of these events tend to have some of the biggest matches and the most exciting moments. It'll be an incredible five days of coverage.

The World Championship

The World Championship will take place on December 2, 3, and 7. Coverage will start at 9 a.m. local time (CET), 12 a.m. PT, 3 a.m. ET, 8 a.m. GMT, and will showcase 24 of the world's best Magic players as they compete across four different formats and multiple days in hopes of earning a spot on December 7's Top 4 playoff.

Day One is an adventure into cards from prior decades. The competitors will kick off the World Championship with a Vintage Masters draft. However, unlike most players who draft this Magic Online­ –exclusive set, these competitors will be drafting from physical booster packs created specifically for this event! You are, of course, welcome to join in on the fun at home, though, as Vintage Masters queues will be up on Magic Online during the World Championship.

After that, it's all about Modern and all the exciting card combinations that come with it, as the 24 players battle through four rounds using their Modern Constructed decks.

Day Two returns to more traditional territory, as the players will begin their day with a Khans of Tarkir Booster Draft, and then three rounds after. Then, the players switch to Standard Constructed and play out the remaining four rounds of the Swiss before the cut to the Top 4.

On Sunday, the four remaining players will compete in a best-of-five Standard showdown to see who will be crowned the World Champion.

Leading up to the event, we'll be doing one brief profile on each of the twenty-four competitors. You can view the profiles that have currently gone up below:

Patrick Chapin
Tom Martell
Raphaël Lévy
Willy Edel
Paul Rietzl
Lars Dam
Josh Utter-Leyton
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

The World Magic Cup

Of course, the gap between December 3 and 7 leaves a convenient opening for perhaps one of our most exciting events each year: the World Magic Cup, three straight days featuring 72 countries competing for fame, fortune, and national pride. Coverage for the World Magic Cup takes place on December 5 and 6 starting at 10 a.m. local time (CET), 1 a.m. PT, 4 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. GMT. Coverage for the World Magic Cup playoff is on December 7 at 9 a.m. local time.

The event always brings with it some big surprises, passionate players, and some memorable moments. Such as this one, from the 2012 World Magic Cup.

Never has a miraculous Bonfire of the Damned been looked at with such happiness and disdain, depending on which side of the table you were on for this match.

Timely topdecks have become something of a tradition, as witnessed in the 2013 World Magic Cup finals.

It was a pivotal moment in Magic coverage last year and a huge win for France who, as host Rich Hagon shouts in the video, "...they've won everything in the game!" They truly have, in fact, claimed every title at least once with this victory.

The 2014 World Magic Cup kicks off with Khans of Tarkir Team Sealed, a skill-testing Limited puzzle featuring some extremely powerful 40-card decks. After that, the teams will compete in four rounds of Unified Standard, with each teammate playing a Standard deck that does not share more than four cards (aside from basic lands) among all piloted decks.

The Top 32 teams advance into Day Two, where three rounds with a new Team Sealed deck challenge and a split into eight pools of four teams take place. The Top 2 teams of each pool (16 teams total) advance into the final three rounds of Team Unified Standard, four pools of four teams each. The Top 2 teams from each pool at the end of these rounds advances into the Top 8 playoff on Sunday, which features Team Unified Standard once more.

From the juggernaut teams such as Sweden and the United States, to the success stories such as Iceland, the World Magic Cup is full of surprises, and we'll be bringing you every minute of the action on December 5, 6, and 7.

The Flashback

Two events took place in different hemispheres last weekend. One, a Standard spectacular. The other, a Team Limited showcase. Let's jump right in.

Last weekend concluded the four-week Standard world tour that started in Honolulu; stopped in Los Angeles; then Stockholm; and finally Santiago, Chile. A total of 643 players showed up to Santiago, primarily Chileans who aimed to keep the trophy home.

However, Brazil, South America's Magic powerhouse, managed to put three Brazilians in the Top 8, including 2014 World Championship competitor Willy Edel.

While Edel took an early exist after a whopping eight mulligans across two games in the quarterfinals, it was Eduardo "I1X0" dos Santos Vieira, Magic Online aficionado, who claimed the title with a unique Abzan deck sporting a graveyard theme highlighting Whip of Erebos, Hornet Queen, and Magic 2015 Limited dream-crusher Soul of Theros.

Full coverage of the event can be found here, but here are a couple of highlights from the weekend:

Wily Edel on Latin American Pro Magic—Veteran reporter Josh Bennett talks to Willy Edel on his climb back into the top ranks of premier play, the challenges that Latin American players face with aspiring to Pro Tour success, and a whole lot more.

The Best Game I Ever Saw—Upon seeing Jose Luis Echeverria Paredes competing at Grand Prix Santiago, Pro Tour statistician Rich Hagon reflects on the best game of Magic he's ever witnessed at the top level, which featured the Chilean in a standstill battle against Hall of Famer Frank Karsten with a Top 8 berth on the line at Pro Tour Yokohama 2007.

Grand Prix Nashville featured fourteen rounds of Team Sealed, two Team Booster Drafts, and a list of Top 16 teams featuring a host of names you can pick out by...well, simply following the last few weeks of coverage, because the success of the pros at this event was a real sight to behold.

The final match of the tournament was a testament to this, featuring four out of six players who will be competing in the 2014 World Championship in just a few weeks. While the juggernaut trio of 18th-ranked Tom Martell, 20th-ranked Shahar Shenhar, and Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa displayed some truly astounding skill all weekend, it was the West-Coast trio featuring 19th-ranked Jacob Wilson, Matt Nass, and Jesse Hampton—who had to drive through a blizzard after his flight stalled in Charlotte in order to arrive on time Saturday—that took home the trophies for this event.

Full coverage of the event can be found here, but here are a few highlight features:

Trust, Tactics, and Teamwork—Veteran reporter Marc Calderaro talks with multiple teams about how they were brought together, what they were looking to get out of the event, and what has made their team work in Day Two of the tournament.

The Minor Matter of Mana—Text reporter Adam Styborski talks to some of the powerhouse teams about how to split up the nonbasic lands among three players in a Khans of Tarkir Team Sealed event.

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