SEMIFINALS: ENGLAND VS. DENMARK

Posted in 2014 WORLD MAGIC CUP on December 7, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

Stories like England's don't come around often at major events. Given the way tournament structure typically works, players who hope to Top 8 a tournament must do well throughout the entire weekend. Starting 0-2 can be a death knell to a competitor's hopes of playing on Sunday.

The World Magic Cup is the opposite. With a hard cut after the first day and pool play in the second, even a team that started poorly can overcome bad tiebreakers to advance to the elimination rounds.

That's exactly what England did. Things looked dire after an 0-2 start on Friday, but they turned things around in a big way. A rocky start became a 5-2 finish, and they continued the momentum on Saturday, posting a 5-1 record to lock up a Top 8 berth. Once there, they dispatched the powerful Brazil team to advance to the semifinals.

Where Denmark awaited. The Danes, led by captain Martin Müller (a Top 25 finisher at Pro Tour Born of the Gods) and twelve-time Pro Tour competitor Thomas Enevoldsen, quickly tore through Serbia in the quarterfinals and were looking to play spoiler to England's improbable run.

Denmark and England, who crossed paths in the final round of Day One, met again for the last time in the semifinals.

The Decks

Both teams were playing the same three decks, with Müller bringing Mardu Midrange to battle Fabrizio Anteri's Blue-Black Control, Enevoldsen picking up the Blue-Black control mantle for Denmark against David Inglis' Abzan Whip, and Simon Nielsen playing Abzan whip for Denmark against Francesco Giorgio's Mardu Midrange.

The Games

A lightning fast start by Giorgio—curving Hordeling Outburst into Butcher of the Horde into Wingmate Roc and then Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker—made quick work of the first game, though Nielsen was ready to battle back.

A few early trades in Game 2 left Nielsen with a Courser of Kruphix staring down Giorgio's Chandra, Pyromaster, and after Giorgio fought back with Crackling Doom and Butcher of the Horde it looked like it could be a fast match.

But when Nielsen untapped he was ready to turn the tables yet again. A Murderous Cut removed the Butcher and Wingmate Roc followed to take out the Chandra. A second Butcher of the Horde got Cut down as well, and a Hornet Queen cleaned up the rest for Nielsen.

Two exciting games were somewhat undone in the clincher when Giorgio was unable to find a third land in time to impact the board, and he quickly fell to the air force assembled by a pair of Wingmate Roc, sending Denmark ahead 1-0 over England in matches.

Team Denmark's Nielsen gave his team some breathing room with a match win after three tight games.

On the other end of the table Müller and Anteri traded games and went into their own decider, where the Brit showed exactly why so many decided to sleeve up Blue-Black Control this weekend.

Butcher of the Horde from Müller? Dissolved. Chandra, Pyromaster? Meet a Hero's Downfall. Have a Goblin Rabblemaster problem? There's a Pharika's Cure for that. Goblin tokens from Hordeling Outburst? No problem for Bile Blight. No answer in hand for a resolved Elspeth, Sun's Champion? Thoughtseize it away.

It was a brutal sequence of threat-answer, and it left the Control player exactly where he wanted to be. Having finally run Müller out of relevant threats, Anteri cast a Dig Through Time to find one of his own, and Pearl Lake Ancient answered the call. A few attack steps later and the match was even.

That sent all eyes to Enevoldsen and Inglis, who were locked in a Game 3 of their own that would decide which team advanced to the finals.

It was all down to the final game between England's Inglis and Denmark's Enevoldsen.

A mulligan to five cards seemed like a rough start for Inglis, but it didn't slow him down a bit. An Elvish Mystic led to a Turn 2 Anafenza, the Foremost, though it fittingly met a Hero's Downfall. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver followed for Enevoldsen when he untapped.

Utter End removed Ashiok, but a second quickly filled its spot. That began a long game of Inglis trying to take down the pesky Planeswalker and Enevoldsen working to protect it. A pair of Dig Through Time facilitated that and set up Enevoldsen's hand to contain Inglis, who was finally beginning to slow from the mulligan but was still putting up a fight.

Polukranos, the World Eater finally took down the Ashiok, though it left behind a stolen Courser of Kruphix in its place, and the reason became clear when Enevoldsen simply replaced it with a third Ashiok. The Courser fed the Polukranos on the next turn to save Ashiok, and Ætherspouts stopped the next attack in its tracks.

Soul of Innistrad — the card that even out of the graveyard had won Game 2 for Inglis, resolved but was immediately quieted by Silence the Believers. A follow-up Hornet Queen was countered and then Ashiok added insult to injury by deploying a stolen Hornet Queen to Enevoldsen's side of the field.

Like that, the bees began poking away at Inglis' life total, and when one final desperation Whip of Erebos was also countered, the English extended their hands in defeat and congratulated Team Denmark for advancing to the finals of the World Magic Cup.

England's run was done, as Denmark advanced to the finals.

Denmark 2 – England 1