Over the past three days, 73 teams from around the world competed in the fourth World Magic Cup.
The beautiful city of Barcelona played host to the World Magic Cup in 2015. Just down the road from the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalonian Art, shown), the venue set the stage for three days of Magic played at the highest competitive levels.
On Friday morning, players gather from all corners of the planet. 73 teams assembled for the fourth World Magic Cup, with Malta the newest team to join the international pantheon.
Each team aimed to take home the World Magic Cup trophy and their share of the $250,000 prize pool. 1st place included $12,000 for each of the team members, with remaining prizes down to 32nd place.
The event was supported by a fantastic crew of judges and support staff, led by Head Judge Scott Marshall. Without the dedication of the Judge team, none of this could happen.
Soon it was time to begin the first round of Battle for Zendikar Team Sealed. Each team must build three decks out of a shared pool of cards, taking into account the peculiarities of the format, the need to share power cards across the decks, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the players on the team.
Defending champions Denmark, led by team captain and Platinum level Pro Martin Dang, with teammates Martin Müller, Daniel Lind, and Christoffer Larsen, were rewarded by opening an expedition, one of the full-art lands that people can potentially open in Battle for Zendikar booster packs. Expectations were high for this strong team to defend their impressive win in Nice.
The hard work of building decks together began, with different teams, such as Chinese Taipei and Columbia (shown), using the space available in various ways, reiterating the deck combinations over and over until they settled on their best options.
Around the room, players smashed their Sealed decks in an attempt to get ahead early and secure their position in Day Two as quickly as possible. Mexico, led by captain Marcelino Freeman alongside teammates Ramon Vazquez, Jose Menchaca, and Miguel Martinez, played the mental game by hiding their reactions behind huge sombreros and bushy moustaches.
In later rounds, Teams would play Unified Standard, which is explained here. The first round of Unified Standard saw United States face off against Japan in the feature match area. Japan emerged victorious in a close match, winning two games in the best-of-three match.
Later in the day Panama, Scotland and the Dominican Republic shared in the Spirit Awards, which Wizards awards to those teams that demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to the spirit of the World Magic Cup; community, friendship, and sportsmanship.
Meanwhile, a lonely Nathan Holt, filmed his latest episode of Walking the Planes, tentatively titled "Forever Alone."
At the end of Day One, players crowded around standings to learn which of the 73 teams had earned a spot in Day Two. 32 teams would make it through and the first of the Pool rounds; you can read about each of them here.
Finding themselves in 18th position at the end of Day One, Denmark battled their way through Pool B against Macedonia, Iceland, and Scotland. The team lived up to expectations, making it through the pod, and then winning throughout the day to make 4th seed in the Top 8.
Not everyone was so lucky; both Australia and New Zealand lost their opportunity to reach Top 8 during the half of the day, with Team Captains Paul Jackson and Jason Chung giving each other a consoling hug for support.
In the final Round, Greece played Scotland for the final Top 8 slot. With two matches completed, the final match went to time in Game 3. At the last possible point in extra turns, when a draw would eliminate Scotland and advance Greece through to the Top 8, Scotland managed to knock Greece's life total to zero and advance instead.
Eight teams made it to the Top 8; France, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Thailand, Guatemala, Scotland and Japan. With the Swiss and Pool rounds over, it was now straight elimination until the Finals.
The quarterfinals were brutal for the favorites Japan and Denmark, being knocked out by France and Thailand respectively. Austria beat Guatemala (shown), while Scotland narrowly lost to Italy.
In the semifinals, Thailand beat the top seed France in three close matches and Italy went 2-1 against Austria (shown). The two would face each other in the finals.
In a surprisingly fast finals, Italy triumphed over Thailand 2-0, becoming the fourth World Magic Cup winners and taking home the trophy.
Congratulations to Marco Cammilluzzi, Andrea Mengucci, Francesco Bifero, and William Pizzi on their fantastic performance over the three days, and to every player who participated in the World Magic Cup in Barcelona. Until next year!