The 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship is right around the corner, so now seems like a great time to look back on some of the most amazing and memorable moments—sick plays, misplays, upsets, and heartfelt moments—from previous World Championships.
1. 2000 World Championship (Brussels): Jon Finkel vs. Bob Maher
Our first memorable game was a battle of titans. Jon Finkel, regarded by many as the greatest player in the history of Magic, faced Bob Maher in the final of Worlds 2000. At this point in time, both players had previously won Pro Tours. Their decks were almost identical and they were facing off in Game 5, the match-deciding game. To appreciate this game fully, here's a couple of cards you should be familiar before watching the clip below.
When Finkel won this match, he joined Tommi Hovi as the only player to win more than one premier-level event at that time.
2. 2006 World Championship (Paris)—Makihito Mihara vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
The next incredible moment stands out for a different reason: it was a big misplay. During the quarterfinals of Worlds 2006 in Paris, France, Makihito Mihara faced off against Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Mihara was playing Dragonstorm, and was setting up to combo kill Damo da Rosa. But halfway through his combo, he realized his math was wrong and he couldn't combo off.
In the end, Mihara managed to draw the perfect sequence of cards he needed to win and take the match. He would go on to play Gabriel Nassif in the semifinals, in which he would be victorious, and would eventually become the World Champion after defeating his countryman Ryo Ogura.
3. 2007 World Championship (New York City)—Gabriel Nassif vs. Patrick Chapin
Perhaps the single most iconic game happened in 2007. It was the World Championship semifinals. Patrick Chapin led 2-1 against Gabriel Nassif, and they were both playing a Dragonstorm list they designed together. Before watching the clip, let's take a look at the card Ignite Memories.
Nassif needed to win this game in order to force a Game 5—and he mulliganed to four.
Even though Nassif was able to defy the odds and pull this game out, Chapin would go on to win the match. He would play and lose to Uri Peleg, the eventual 2007 World Champion.
4. 2011 World Championship (San Francisco)—Conley Woods vs. Craig Wescoe
During the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Championship, Conley Woods faced off against Craig Wescoe. Their entire match is great, so I suggest you watch the whole thing. This World Championship was a fantastic showing for Woods and Team ChannelFireball. The team put four players into the Top 8.
Aside from the sick Magic being played, one of the best Magic GIFs you'll ever see originated from this match. Don't mess with Conley.
5. 2013 World Championship (Amsterdam)—Shahar Shenhar vs. Reid Duke
In 2013 in Amsterdam, Shahar Shenhar and Reid Duke faced each other in the finals. Shahar brought Blue-Red-White Control to the table against Reid's Green-White Hexproof deck. Duke started out 2-1, and things were looking like grim for nineteen-year-old from Israel. On top of that, Shenhar was, by most accounts, an underdog in the matchup.
With his back against the wall, he pulled out Game 4, forcing a fifth and final game. Shenhar had removal spells aplenty, so it was crucial that Duke find a hexproof creature in his opening hand...
After five days of competition, Shenhar caused one of the biggest upsets that has ever happened at a World Championship and became the 2013 World Champion.
6. 2015 World Championship (Seattle)—Owen Turtenwald vs. Seth Manfield
Just last year, we had one of the most emotional moments ever seen at a World Championship. Owen Turtenwald and Seth Manfield battled for the title of 2015 World Champion. The players were tied at 2-2 and playing a long, grindy game. After a lot of back-and-forth, a pair of Siege Rhinos (and the life drain they brought with them) finally earned the victory for Manfield. People recall his reaction to winning and the emotion he displayed on camera as powerful and deeply moving.
Manfield achieved Platinum status in the Pro Players Club, was crowned the 2015 World Champion, and became a father all within that same year.
These are just a few of the most memorable moments that have occurred in the history of the World Championship. Are there any moments that are near and dear to your heart that I missed? Let me know on Twitter @gabyspartz, or on my stream at twitch.tv/gabyspartz. And be sure to tune in to twitch.tv/magic this Thursday to see all the action of this year's Magic World Championship!