It was the all-underdog finals that nobody could have predicted. Two of Magic's under-represented countries shocked the world, and now stood on the cusp of greatness.
A Seat: Martin Müller (Mardu Midrange)
B Seat: Thomas Enevoldsen (Blue-Black Control)
C Seat: Simon Nielsen (Abzan Whip)
"Coach": Lars Birch
Last year was Captain Martin Müller's rookie year, but don't let his age or inexperience fool you. His debut performance was a 17th place finish at Pro Tour Born of the Gods, and he's put proof to that result by steering his team through to the finals. Against almost anyone else, the Danes would be considered underdogs, but here they have to be considered the favorites.
A Seat: Socrates Rozakeas (Mardu Midrange)
B Seat: Bill Chronopoulos (Temur Midrange)
C Seat: Panagiotis Savvidis (Sidisi Whip)
"Coach": Marios Angelopoulos
"The Greeks don't care who they face." - Marios Angelopoulos
They were already a Cinderella story simply for making the Top 8. Even if they could get the better of Nam Sung Wook's Team South Korea, they would face either Team Slovak Republic or Team United States. A finals appearance seemed impossible. Showing the same grit that brought them to Sunday, they bested Owen Turtenwald and the Americans, and now stand just one match away from being World Magic Cup Champions. They came to the table brimming with energy and confidence.
The two underdog teams squared off, with the winning team achieving Magic history for their country.
In the early turns it looked like the first game of the Whip-on-Whip match in the C Seat might not spiral out of control. Both Panagiotis Savvidis (with Marios Angelopoulos over his shoulder) and Simon Nielsen had turn-two Sylvan Caryatid. Nielsen dropped Siege Rhino. Savvidis matched it with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, who milled Hornet Queen to get a zombie. Nielsen swung in with the Rhino, happy to trade it away for Sidisi in combat. He quickly replaced it with Wingmate Roc. Savvidis took a turn to bring out the Whip of Erebos and took a big hit in the air. Nielsen added a second Wingmate Roc, but further attacks were stalled by the instant airforce created when Savvidis brought back the Hornet Queen. They settled in for a long game.
Next door in the B Seat, Thomas Enevoldsen was on the back foot against Bill Chronopoulos. He'd managed to resolve an early Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and sacrificed it to animate the Savage Knuckleblade it exiled. Chronopoulos went overhead with Stormbreath Dragon. Enevoldsen's Hero's Downfall was a turn slow, and Crater's Claws dispatched the Knuckleblade to clear a path for Rattleclaw Mystic and Elvish Mystic. Enevoldsen had no immediate answer, and as he struggled to find his footing, Chronopolous shut the door with a bestowed Boon Satyr.
Team Greece's Chronopoulos clears away stolen creatures with Crater's Claws.
Chronopoulos 1 - Enevoldsen 0
In the Mardu mirror, Martin Müller had the initiative. He and Socrates Rozakeas were trading off cards, but Müller's creatures were a turn faster, and he was taxing Rozakeas's life total. Rozakeas spent Crackling Doom to kill Goblin Rabblemaster during Müller's main phase, preventing his getting a free goblin token, but that let Müller cast Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker pre-combat and activate it to swing in. That was bad news, as Rozakeas didn't have removal ready for the big Planeswalker. He built up his board with Goblin Rabblemaster and Hordeling Outburst, but the Sarkhan hits added up, and a Lightning Strike sent him to his sideboard.
Müller 1 - Rozakeas 0
Back in C, the board was getting very cluttered. Savvidis had a stocked graveyard and getting an advantage out of each Whip activation. He couldn't attack past the Wingmate Rocs on Nielsen's side, however. Nielsen further complicated things with a Hornet Queen of his own, but Savvidis found Doomwake Giant waiting on top of his deck. He was down to only 8 life, but could gain tons at the first sign of danger simply by committing to an attack.
Game 2 for Chronopoulos saw him stumble briefly on three lands with a hand full of reactive spells. Enevoldsen could hardly punish him with Blue-Black, and simply played out his lands. When he hit six, he tried Ashiok, but Chronopoulos spent Temur Charm and Stubborn Denial to keep it off the board. Then he started casting Stormbreath Dragons.
The two teams both had to defeat multiple Goliath-sized countries to get to here. Now, only one team match remained.
It was bad news for Greece in the A seat, however, as Rozakeas's two-land opener had failed to find a third land, and he could only sit as Müller went Hordeling Outburst into Chandra, Pyromaster. He was down to 13 when his deck finally took pity on him and he summoned Goblin Rabblemaster. Crackling Doom bumped it off and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker joined the party. A turn later it was over.
Denmark 1 - Greece 0
Enevoldsen had to spend his last two cards, a pair of Hero's Downfalls to clear out the Dragons. He drew a scryland and kept one on top. Chronopoulos went one better by ripping Dig Through Time. It served up another Stormbreath Dragon who hit play immediately. Enevoldsen revealed that he'd drawn Divination, casting it and passing back. Savage Knuckleblade from Chronopoulos drew out Dissolve, leaving Enevoldsen helpless to stop a lethal Crater's Claws.
Denmark 1 - Greece 1
So it would be Savvidis vs Nielsen for all the marbles. While all that was going on, Nielsen had found a window to swing in with his Rocs, backed by a recently-milled Soul of Theros. Which led to him saying "So I gain...26, go to 50."
The Whip or Erebos match-ups can create some unruly battlefields. Savvidis, however, had the more unruly one.
All that did was draw things out further. He couldn't match the accumulated advantage of Savvidis and his Whip. Soon a second Doomwake Giant and a redundant Whip of Erebos wiped his whole board, and gave Savvidis the game.
Savvidis 1 - Nielsen 0
Each team crowded around their designated champion. Nielsen took a mulligan for Game 2 and they were off. Savvidis kept a two-lander and had to sweat his third land on turn three, but Polluted Delta came to his rescue. Still, his draw was clunky and didn't let him get on the board. Nielsen meanwhile had gone Caryatid into Courser. He hit for 2 and tried Wingmate Roc, but ran into Disdainful Stroke.
Savvidis found a scry-land and kept a good one on top. Nielsen played a second Courser of Kruphix and then a Windswept Heath off the top of his deck. Satyr Wayfinder milled a Soul of Theros. Savvidis offed one Courser with Murderous Cut, then untapped and played Doomwake Giant. Nielsen answered with Hornet Queen.
Here, a moment of forgetfulness for Savvidis became a staggering blunder. With a second Doomwake Giant in his hand, he passed the turn, holding up Negate and Sultai Charm. Nielsen could barely contain his excitement as he untapped. He Thoughtseized. Savvidis Negated. Then he turned all his creatures sideways and activated the Soul of Theros in his graveyard. Sultai Charm could kill the Queen, but it was still lethal damage.
Savvidis 1 - Nielsen 1
Teammates have gathered around Davvidis and Nielsen, the tournament to be decided by the result of their final game.
Again Nielsen had to mulligan, but he stayed on six. Savvidis had the textbook second-turn Sylvan Caryatid, third-turn Courser of Kruphix, but missed the part where he would reveal a land that he desperately needed. There was still no land on turn four, and he Thoughtseized, taking Nielsen's Whip of Erebos and leaving behind three Murderous Cut and two Siege Rhino. The discarded card also enabled Nielsen to Cut down the Courser, putting land further out of reach for Savvidis.
Nielsen ripped land number four and started casting Rhinos, each met by Hero's Downfall from Savvidis, whose deck stubbornly refused to give him another land. By way of compromise, it gave him Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Nielsen needed a rip in the worst way, but found only lands. Ashiok's loyalty ticked higher and higher, with some tasty goodies being tucked away for later. Nielsen drew Thoughtseize and stole Disdainful Stroke.
Ashiok was at nine loyalty, and Savvidis simply couldn't resist going ultimate. In the aftermath, there are some who said he acted precipitously. Nevertheless, he left Nielsen empty-handed. His shortness of mana was his only weakness.
Nielsen drew a nice one: Siege Rhino.
Still tight on mana, Savvidis summoned a Courser and upped Ashiok.
When Nielsen peeked at his next draw his teammates faces betrayed that it had been another winner. He tapped seven and put down Duneblast.
Ashiok was exposed. Savvidis spent Bile Blight on the Rhino to keep his Planeswalker, but things were going from bad to worse.
After Savvidis got no help on his turn, Nielsen again went to the top of his deck, and this time his teammates didn't bother holding back the cheers.
It was Wingmate Roc. You couldn't have scripted a better sequence of top-decks.
A turn later, Team Denmark became World Magic Cup Champions.
Congratulations to Team Denmark, 2014 World Magic Cup Champions!