Posted in 2014 WORLD MAGIC CUP on December 5, 2014

By Josh Bennett

Two teams with designs on Sunday glory crossed paths at 3-1. The winning team would likely secure a Day Two appearance.

Team Chinese Taipei

A Seat: Huang Hao-Shan

B Seat: Tzu Ching Kuo

C Seat: Lin Drizzt

"Coach": Jian Sheng Xiu

En route to their victory at the first World Magic Cup in 2012, Team Chinese Taipei gave us one of pro Magic's iconic moments: the Bonfire Topdeck. Captain Tzu Ching Kuo is back in command this year, alongside APAC Grand Prix juggernaut Huang Hao-Shan, for whom the fifth Top 8 was the charm. He finally grabbed gold on home soil earlier this year. Their sights are set squarely on a Top 8 berth.

Team Czech Republic

A Seat: Josef Vlach

B Seat: Stanislav Cifka

C Seat: Nikola Vavra

"Coach": Tomas Kuchta

It's hard to go wrong with a Pro Tour Champion in the captain's seat, and it's his third time in command. Last year they reached the Top 4. Can they improve on it this time around? Between GP Champion Nikola Vavra and solid, if unseasoned, players Josef Vlach and Tomas Kuchta they have the makings of a deep Saturday run.

Both Chinese Taipei and the Czech Republic have seen play on the World Magic Cup Sunday stage. However, while Chinese Taipei was looking for a second set of trophies, the Czech Republic was still chasing down their first victory.

The Games

It was a captains battle in the middle seat. Tzu Ching Kuo was playing Jeskai Tokens after seeing how well it performed in the hands of Yuuya Watanabe at the World Championship earlier this week. Stanislav Cifka was with his trusty blue-black control. He played it with a speed that few can manage for control decks. Despite missing with Despise early, Cifka weathered the initial storm. Thoughtseize stole Treasure Cruise, and Drown in Sorrow mopped up Goblin Rabblemaster and tokens from Hordeling Outburst.

Next door in the A Seat, Huang and Vlach were getting mired in the Green-Black Constellation Mirror. Huang had the advantage, however, thanks to a little mana tightness from Vlach and a pair of Eidolon of Blossoms on his side of the board.

At the other end of the table, Vavra's Mono-Red was making short work of Lin's Temur Monsters. Just before Lin could steady the ship, Vavra took the first game in classic mono-red fasion: upkeep Magma Jet to the dome, finding Titan's Strength for an unblocked creature.

Team Chinese Taipei works to remain ahead after a solid start to the weekend.

Vavra 1 - Lin 0

Meanwhile Cifka had resolved Pearl Lake Ancient at a comfortable 5 life. He ended the game in three swings.

Cifka 1 - Kuo 0

Lin, on the play, rolled out turn-three Savage Knuckleblade, turn-four Savage Knuckleblade. Despite a pair of Searing Bloods taking out the first one, Lin was able to stomp to victory, safe behind a Hornet Nest.

Vavra 1 - Lin 1

At one point in Game 1, Huang played a third Eidolon of Blossoms. Between that card advantage and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, it wasn't long before he notched a win.

Huang 1 - Vlach 0

Back in the middle seat, Kuo was in hell. Cifka had blunted his early aggression and resolved Dig Through Time, so that now he had a healthy grip and a little life to work with. Unfortunately, there was still an outside chance that things could break Kuo's way, so he was forced to tough it out.

Mono-Red on the play can be terrifying to play against. Worse when you have to mulligan an awkward six. On the other side, Vlach was sending his hand back against Huang, but things were looking dire for Chinese Taipei. Then Kuo finally succumbed, and things looked even worse.

Chinese Taipei 0 – Czech Republic 1

The sequence of plays from Vavra's deck went thus: Turn 1, Foundry Street Denizen. Turn 2, Valley Dasher and attack for four. Turn 3, Monastery Swiftspear, Magma Jet your elf, attack for six.

The only good news for Chinese Taipei was Huang having picked apart Vlach's hand with Thoughtseizes. He didn't have much pressure, but surely it would only be a matter of time.

Lin summoned a Savage Knuckleblade and passed. Vavra sent his squad, and Lin spent a minute considering where to block. Cifka realised Vavra didn't need to draw things out and flipped over his hand, showing that all blocks led to the same conclusion: Defeat. Excitement got the better of Vavra and he extended his hand to accept a handshake. Cifka slapped him on the wrist like a disapproving mother. Chagrined, Vavra withdrew his hand. Lin laughed and offered his own.

Chinese Taipei 0 – Czech Republic 2

Huang and Vlach decided to play out the remainder of their match. At first it seemed like it would be a short affair, but a series of four top-decks from Vlach put him in the driver's seat, while Huang's deck served up only blanks. As the game drew out further still I was called away on other business. Feel free to imagine whatever ending pleases you best.