ROUND 3: ARGENTINA VS. BRAZIL

Posted in 2014 WORLD MAGIC CUP on December 5, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

The rivalry between Brazil and Argentina is well-documented. It's always a spectacle when the two South American countries square off in sports, and that competition has shown through in Magic as well.

South American Grand Prix are always contentious affairs when hosted in one of the two countries. The pressure to defend home turf is high, and while the competition is always friendly, it's also fierce.

And now it's a rivalry that has taken to the world stage.

Both teams started off the tournament hot, running their record to 2-0 in Team Sealed. But when they were matched up in Round 3, only one would escape the Limited rounds unscathed. A new chapter in the Brazil-Argentina rivalry was ready to be written, this time with the World Magic Cup on the line.

The Decks

Three matches, and by the luck of the pairings board, all three matches featured opponents playing similar decks. In Seat A sat Brazil's Thiago Saporito and his Abzan deck staring down Argentina's Matias Bollati and a very similar build. Next to them was Brazil's captain Willy Edel squaring off against Ariel Nagy, both with Temur decks that even shared rares like Savage Knuckleblade. And in the final table sat Argentina's Mariano Cartechini with a Jeskai deck against the red-white aggressive deck sported by Brazil's Gabriel Fehr.

With decks that looked so much the same, almost every game came down not to how the decks matched up against each other but how well the players manipulated any small advantage they were able to find. With so many powerful threats floating around in Team Sealed—but also so many powerful answers to those threats—games often come down to who is best able to craft a winning position from the margins. With so much on the line in this match, every competitor was looking to do just that.

The long-matched rivalry between Argentina and Brazil emerged in the third round of the 2014 World Magic Cup.

The Games

As the games next to them got off to slow starts, Edel and Nagy kicked it into high gear fairly quickly. Smoke Teller and Tuskguard Captain came down for Nagy to start pressuring Edel's life total early, especially when all Edel could muster was a Jeskai Windscout on the third turn.

But the Captain never got a chance to get out of control, as it found itself on the wrong end of a fight with the Windscout thanks to Temur Charm as the bird began pecking away at Nagy's life total. When his follow-up Sultai Flayer earned a Crippling Chill from Edel it was clear that the race was on.

To that extent, Nagy added Heir of the Wilds and a morphed creature to bolster his own racing position, though Edel matched the ground game with a Bear's Companion while maintaining air superiority. He maintained it thanks to a timely Force Away when Nagy tried to use Savage Punch to clear out the annoying 2/1 flier.

Team Brazil, captained by Willy Edel, seeks to improve their good start.

Nagy fell to 7 life on the ensuing attack, and Edel looked to close things out with Riverwheel Aerialists, an imposing move that looked a lot less impressive when Nagy used the opportunity to send a Waterwhirl at Edel's only two creatures. With just a morphed creature and a Smoke Teller, Nagy's board may not have been impressive, but it was a lot more impressive than the nothing Edel had, and tapping out again for the Aerialists was a dangerous proposition.

Less dangerous, though, was replacing the Jeskai Windscout and quietly adding Savage Knuckleblade alongside it. That instantly froze Nagy's offensive, and by the time he had enough mana to unmorph Woolly Loxodon Edel had the deathtouching Heir of the Wilds to take care of it and buy the Windscout enough time to finish the job it had started.

With the other two games finishing around the same time—Bollati and Fehr winning—the early count sat 2-1 in Brazil's favor.

One of the few differences between Edel's and Nagy's deck was the fact that they looked for their card advantage in different places. For Edel, it was Treasure Cruise, and for Nagy it was Trail of Mystery.

It was the latter that shined in a decisive Game 2. Nagy deployed the do-everything enchantment on the third turn and immediately began morphing creatures, a trend that continued throughout the game. While Edel did manage to Treasure Cruise fairly quickly, it was because his board was quickly falling behind Nagy's. With the omnipresent threat of winning combat thanks to the Trail's second ability, Nagy never let Edel get a hold in a game in which even a Thousand Winds weren't enough to solve the mystery, and things were tied at one game apiece.

A current of tension underlined the entire match, and that was kicked up to a 10 as the players shuffled up for the final game. And when the players on their sides split their matches and set the score at Brazil 1, Argentina 1, things amplified even more for Edel and Nagy.

Team Argentina, captained by Demian Tejo, brings their match against Brazil down to the final game between the team.

Players traded creatures early, but while Edel was down a card after a mulligan he was the first to reach all three colors of his mana. That allowed him to use Temur Charm to counter a spell and apply pressure with his Glacial Stalker while Nagy struggled to complete his mana base.

That is, until Nagy again found Trail of Mystery. The snowballing enchantment had completely dominated Game 2, and as the morphs again filled the battlefield it looked like it would do the same here. Edel had added a Riverwheel Aerialists next to his Glacial Stalker, but neither could stand up to the growing army Nagy was assembling face-down.

With just one more turn before he would succumb to the monsters laying hidden, Edel made his move. A Crippling Chill on one creature staved off his death and bought him a turn, and Edel made the most of it. He found a Winterflame on top of his deck, used it to tap one blocker and destroy another. Then came a Force Away on the last remaining blocker, taking Nagy from four defenders to zero in the span of one turn.

Combined with the pair of prowess triggers on his Aeralists, Edel was able to attack for exactly the 10 damage he needed to end the game and claim this round of the Argentina-Brazil rivalry for his country.

Argentina 1 – Brazil 2