UP AND COMING COUNTRY SUCCESS

Posted in 2014 WORLD MAGIC CUP on December 6, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

While some teams come from countries with a legacy of success at world events, such as this year's teams from the United States, Canada, France, and Chinese Taipei, there are many more looking for their chance to make history at the World Magic Cup.

One team includes the gentlemen from Serbia, a country that has produced some excellent players but never a team championship.

"We are all from the same town," Milos Stajic began.

"It was easy for us to test together," said captain Aleksa Telarov.

"We've known each other a long time," Boris Bajgo continued. "Other players in our country said 'If we had players to pick for a team, it was us.' It was like a Dream Team."

"It was the best hand-picked team basically," Stajic said.

Bajgo pointed down to Telarov. "He's our best player: Seven times he's come to Worlds. The rest of us just once."

"Twice," Stajic was quick to correct. He has been on the team for the World Magic Cup in 2012.

In Day One, after taking a loss in the first round, team Serbia rallied to win four in a row and found themselves in a position to draw and ensure seating on Day Two. Their victory over the Czech Republic in the first round of Day Two was exactly what they were looking for.

"Our goal is to get past Team Sealed," Telarov said. "As good as the team is in Draft, we're not as good in Sealed. We just want to pass by this Sealed portion and get to Constructed. We're quite confident there."

"We're confident because of Stajic," Bajgo said.

Team Serbia, captained by Aleksa Telarov

Telarov explained. "Basically we have a dedicated Limited player," he said, referring to Mitodrag Kitanovic. "We have a dedicated Constructed player," now pointing at Milos Stajic. "It's basically the dream scenario. Boris and I play both formats because we had the most time to prepare, and we've played in big events. We have a lot more endurance at the big events. We know how to deal with pressure."

"I don't play Limited at all," Stajic said sheepishly.

Telarov leaded in ominously. "If he gets sick..." he said, trailing off.

"But there's no more Limited after this," Stajic said. "There's only two more rounds."

While getting through the Limited portion was important for them, how important was their overall success for players back home in Serbia?

"It's really important because the team is really good," said Telarov. "Our community's not that big but we have a lot of support. We don't have enemies in our store. Last night they were writing and sending messages. One of our friends was in the finals of two of the World Magic Cup qualifiers. He lost both, but he Photoshopped his face over both Kitanovic and Stajic to look like he was on the national team. They both beat him."

The team was confident in their abilities. "They're good players," Bajgo said. We practiced a lot. We wanted to put Serbia on the map." The conversation turned to teamwork and how they were planning to do just that.

"We can rely on each other to make the good plays," Telarov said. "We really wanted to prove we can be good as a team. Our team's goal is to get into the Top 8 to qualify for [the Pro Tour in] Washington D.C."

Telarov paused a moment and leaned in again. " We want to win and it doesn't stop there."

His team nodded and began laughing. They were in good spirits, ready for the next team in their pool.

Another team that seemed more celebratory than anything was the dapper crew from Uruguay. They had put a lot of effort into things before coming to the event, and it showed with their top pool seed for Day Two.

"We play tested a lot. Especially Limited," Federico Rivero said. "Especially them in Standard." He waved his arms at teammates Matias Roubaud and Martin Castillo. "We focused on playing one round at a time. We didn't say 'We need two or three to get this.' We just focused on one round at a time and I think it helped."

"We worked on communication," Castillo added, "which was easy because we're all friends."

"We trust in ourselves and our teammates," said Roubaud before turning to look down his team, addressing them. "You can play your game."

"It's confidence," said Rivero.

Castillo didn't hesitate to agree. "Totally. I'm confident in my teammates and they feel the same."

Team Uruguay, captained by Sebastian Martinez

How do they feel heading into Day Two? "We got a really hard pod," Rivero explained. "The four teams are really tough. We have to play Chinese Taipei and the United States."

"We can do it though." Castillo was still upbeat. Was it through support from back home?

"The Uruguay community is exploding!" Rivero said with a grin.

" Everybody is writing posts," said Castillo.

"I never had so many Facebook notifications!" Rivero pointed down to Roubaud. "He had like 300!"

"They send their love an congratulations," Castillo said.

"A friend of mine sent me a picture of my feature match," said Rivero, explaining that the Twitch stream was on. "He said 'I saw you on TV!'"

"We thought a lot about he three decks we played," Roubaud explained about Constructed. "A lot of people we played had midrange or control in the middle. We thought that may be that's their best person playing there, so we put an aggro deck in the middle."

Castillo waved at Rivero. "He's our Limited specialist and he can make those decks work."

"Federico is in the middle," Roubaud continued. "He can help us in most tables."

So who sits out? What are they doing? "It depends," Sebastian Martinez, captain of team Uruguay said. "I'm the coach of Limited. I haven't played as much but I try to be supportive. I work at the psychological aspect since I think they're so much better than me in Limited. I try to keep them from making mistakes in a hurry. I try to keep them from being nervous. That sort of thing."

"In the Constructed round we have Mathias sitting as coach," Rivero continued. "He knows the three decks we're playing well enough to help us. He gets a glimpse of what's going on at the table. That was kind of our strategy."

Castillo agreed. "He can help us make the match better, and make good decisions."

With a Day One record of 5-1-1 it seemed that their strategy had paid off. "We've had some benefits from our choices in coaching," Rivero admitted.

Martinez, a player of few words here summed it up easily in agreement. "Some profits."

Their self-investment continued to pay out: They went on to defeat Chinese Taipei in the first match of their pool on Day 2. It's moments and teams like these that can only happen at the World Magic Cup.