The Top 5 Cards from the 2014 World Championship span multiple formats, and were pivotal in shaping the stories that took place during 2014 Worlds Week.
Honorable Mention - Hordeling Outburst
We couldn't leave out the cutest of cards to make an impact this weekend, as five players in the field of twenty-four sleeved up a full play-set of Hordeling Outburst. Whether it was in Yuuya Watanabe's Jeskai Tokens deck, Raphaël Lévy's Mono-Red Aggro deck, or Nam Sung Wook's Mardu Tokens list, Hordeling Outburst was out there. It was, to a certain extent, held in check by all of the Doomwake Giants stomping around the battlefield, but Outburst has proven itself a key cog in many a machine, and for that it deserves at least a nod in its direction.
5. Mana Crypt
Vintage Masters is a drafter's playground. Featuring cards from all across Magic's history and archetypes as diverse as Storm, Madness, Reanimator, and Pure Control, it offers players a chance to get creative while still staying true to nuts and bolts Limited. It also has the almighty Power 9 at a special ultra-rarity. Until this week, it only existed on Magic Online. The World Championship gave its competitors the chance to draft it in real life. Wizards generated 100 packs on Magic Online and noted down their contents. Then, with the help of Star City Games, assembled those exact packs from existing cards. Players chose their three boosters by random draw before sitting down to the table. There were good-natured boos when the players were informed that they would not get to keep the cards they drafted.
Three players swept the tables—our two finalists (Shenhar had Goblins, and Chapin had a very unorthodox Counter-Burn), and Stanislav Cifka. His Goblin deck took the archetype to strange new places. Thanks to the unfair acceleration of Mana Crypt and its land brother Ancient Tomb he was butchering opponents with second-turn Goblin Goons, a card usually left in sideboards.
Day One's second format was Modern Constructed. It was an open question what the players would bring to battle. Grand Prix Madrid had come and gone without the sky falling despite the release of delve powerhouses Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. The dread of a tournament ruled by Jeskai Ascendancy proved to be hot air.
Fast-forward to Round 4, and the trio of Tom Martell, Josh Utter-Leyton and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa were ready to let some fierce tech out of its cage. It was a brand-new take on Jeskai Ascendancy, one that cut green entirely. Instead, the humble Fatestitcher took the place of mana creatures, allowing the deck to play more control cards and still combo off. With an Ascendancy in play, you can unearth a Fatestitcher and use it to untap a land to get a mana. Now your one-mana spells are essentially free, as the Ascendancy untaps your Fatestitcher. Gitaxian Probes net you a mana. And all the time you're looting through your deck, getting other Fatestitchers into the bin so you can bring them back to generate more mana. Once they've grown large enough, lock down all your opponent's permanents and attack for lethal damage. It was a truly elegant deck, and the talk of the tournament.
One of the most played cards in the World Championship, the classic discard spell is something of an unsurprising pick for top cards of the weekend, but it's hard to ignore. For one, anyone playing black—from Blue-Black Control to Abzan Midrange to Black-Green Constellation—was playing the ubiquitous discard spell. For another, there's a parallel here that's hard to ignore. You see, back in 2007, Patrick Chapin also finished second at the World Championship (also, coincidentally, to an Israeli player). He was playing a powerful Dragonstorm Combo deck that many said broke the format. However, standing in Chapin's way was the bane of combo decks everywhere—Thoughtseize. In its first trip through Standard seven years ago, Chapin was on the wrong end of Thoughtseize. He clearly chose to adopt its power this time through, playing them in his Abzan deck, but it's hard not to notice that—even though they didn't play a large role in the finals—once again Patrick Chapin lost to an opponent who was packing four copies of the critical spell.
While everyone noticed Treasure Cruise's overwhelming presence in Modern—where the field basically broke down to Treasure Cruise decks and non-blue decks—it's also worth noting that Treasure Cruise was a key player in Watanabe's Jeskai Tokens deck that made the Top 4 and nearly earned him a second title in three years.
But the real story was the neo-Recall's overwhelming presence in Modern, where it was featured in Delver decks, Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks, and pretty much anything that could tap for blue mana. Dig Through Time did some work as well, but it was Treasure Cruise that Patrick Chapin rode to an undefeated Day One, and it was Treasure Cruise that helped Watanabe break through in Standard. There are a lot of people who think it's best simply to Treasure Cruise in all formats, and this weekend certainly didn't do anything to dissuade them of that notion.
1. Hornet Queen
One of the things that makes Whip decks so terrifying is the advantage their namesake card gives them turn after turn. Satyr Wayfinder and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant stock the graveyard while swinging in for a bit of damage. Doomwake Giant hobbles the enemy as it lumbers across the battlefield. But no card brings more frustration than the Hornet Queen. Her tokens can either hold off an entire army, or provide an instant airforce to go on the offensive.
In the deciding game of the Championship, Chapin and Shenhar were neck and neck with dwindling life totals. Chapin resolved Siege Rhino, a mighty threat by any measure, and one that gave an advantage despite being caught by the snakes of Pharika, God of Affliction. However, the only thing better than one threat is five threats. Shenhar brought down the Queen and her retinue, and their winged assistance carried him to victory.