Semifinals: France vs. Thailand

Posted in Event Coverage on December 13, 2015

By Neale Talbot

Both France and Thailand had earned their way into the quarterfinals, vanquishing some of the best teams from around the world. France, in first place going into the semifinals, certainly appeared to be the team to beat if you were just going off of stats.

Would it be the 2013 winners from Europe, or the Sunday stage newcomers from Asia who would go on to the finals?

France elected to play first in all matches.

Seat C: Hichem Tedjditi (Atarka Red) vs. Chom Pasidparchya (Abzan Aggro)

Tedjditi swiftly swung a Monastery Swiftspear as the game started. Pasidparchya, having gone to six, saw himself with a slower start. Tedjditi's Dragon Fodder found its feet, inflating the monk and forcing it through. Pasidparchya cast a Hangarback Walker, wounded in the wake of the last assault. Tedjditi's next Swiftspear and Abbot of Keral Keep kept the incursions coming, as Hangarback Walker traded with a Goblin token. Dromoka's Command from Pasidparchya stopped a Swiftspear, but it was basically over. The next attack pushed Pasidparchya profoundly low, and he perished shortly afterwards.

In Game 2, Tedjditi kept a one land hand, hoping the risk would result in high rewards. However, it allowed the Abzan Aggro advocate to advance an Anafenza, the Foremost. Tedjditi passed on turn three with a second terrain, while Pasidparchya pushed ahead with a mighty morph to monster his match. Tedjditi attempted to attack with another Monastery Swiftspear but a Dromoka's Command acted to interrupt his assault. With his rival receiving Rhino's, Tedjditi was forced to race. He risked a Become Immense + Temur Battle Rage on an Abbot, but it ate a Murderous Cut, and Tedjditi accepted annihilation.

Chom Pasidparchya fights against Hichem Tedjditi's red creatures with the power of Abzan.

In the final game, Tedjditi started soundly with a Swiftspear, with a second Swiftspear on Turn 2. One Swiftspear met sudden suffering from an Ultimate Price. Tedjditi let loose with a Hordeling Outburst, but his second Swiftspear was cut down by a delved Murderous Cut. Pasidparchya then started to send for Siege Rhinos, a single and then a second. Tedjditi's tiny tokens weren't terribly hard for the Rhinoceroses to trample over, and the Thailand resident triumphed.

Hichem Tedjditi 1 – Chom Pasidparchya 2

Seat A: Arnaud Soumet (Esper Dragons) vs. Suttipong Popitukgul (Esper Dragons)

The first Esper mirror meandered for miles, playing draw-go through to turn six. A French Dragonlord Ojutai met a Foul-Tongue Invocation. Soumet cast Duress, only to meet a Silumgar's Scorn, which itself was countered by Silumgar's Scorn, and then Duress revealed three more Silumgar's Scorn in Popitukgul's hand. Popitukgul attempted a Dragonlord Ojutai of his own, but it too fell to a Foul-Tongue Invocation. Popitukgul went to Dig Through Time, and Soumet responded with Dig Through Time. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy faced off against Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. But Soumet's Jace flipped first and ultimately allowed him get ahead,using a flashed-back Foul-Tongue Invocation to kill Popitukgul's Jace, and when Popitukgul's attempted Dragonlord Silumgar met an Utter End, the Frenchman had control. An Awakened Scatter to the Winds gave Soumet a beater, and he rode it wrap up Game 1.

Suttipong Popitukgul and Arnaud Soumet settle in for the classic Esper mirror.

In Game 2, Soumet and Popitukgul began with a great Jace race, each casting Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. However, Popitukgul managed to flip his Jace first and remove the Frenchman's. For a while, the two mirrored each other's actions again. a French Dragonlord Ojutai encountered a Silumgar's Scorn, and a Thai Dragonlord Ojutai met the same. However, Soumet started to get ahead on lands, vital to the control mirror.

Soumet found the opportunity to land a Monastery Mentor and create a monk token in the same turn, protecting it from a Foul-Tongue Invocation. With Soumet low on open mana, Popitukgul tapped out for Dragonlord Silumgar to steal the Mentor and protect his Jace, Telepath Unbound. Soumet had the trump card, his own Dragonlord Silumgar, using it to steal and sacrifice his opponent's dragon, returning his Mentor. With momentum behind him, Soumet began chaining Dig Through Time, Haven of the Spirit Dragon, and recurred Dragonlord Ojutais. Unable to fight through the card advantage, Popitukgul fell.

Arnaud Soumet 2 – Chom Popitukgul 0

Seat B: Pierre Dagen (Mardu Midrange) vs. Veerapat Sirilertvorakul (Atarka Red)

Sirilertvorakul began with a first-turn Zurgo Bellstriker. Dagen Duressed his opponent, stealing a Become Immense to prevent the Atarka combo with Temur Battle Rage from occurring. Sirilertvorakul followed up with double Monastery Swiftspear. The first Zurgo died to Crackling Doom, but Sirilertvorakul summoned a second, along with an Abbot of Keral Keep.

Sirilertvorakul smashed all in, with the red monk dying to a Murderous Cut. Dagen, now only on 2 life, cast a Thunderbreak Regent with a Nomad Outpost open and passed the turn. Sirilertvorakul, sensing a trap, declined to attack the following turn, so Dagen used the opportunity to maximize his mana efficiency and kill the remaining Zurgo. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Sirilertvorakul found a Hordeling Outburst the following turn, and Dagen failed to find an answer, scooping his cards.

Pierre Dagen braces for impact in the early turns of his games against Veerapat Sirilertvorakul.

In Game 2, Dagen cast an early Hangarback Walker which absorbed a burn spell, leaving behind a Thopter token. Sirilertvorakul cast Dragon Fodder, while Dagen passed turn three with no action. Sirilertvorakul swung in, but Dagen used the token mode on Mardu Charm to create some surprise blockers, playing around Atarka's Command and blocking one of the tokens. Sirilertvorakul cast Hordeling Outburst, going up to four Goblin tokens. Dagen played his trump card, a Soulfire Grand Master. Without removal for the mad monk from Sirilertvorakul, Dagen proceeded to use a Fiery Impulse with the Soulfire Grand Master's activated ability to mow down the tokens while keeping his life total healthy. An Arc Lighting to clear Sirilertvorakul's board convinced the Thai to concede, and they went to Game 3.

With the match on the line, Sirilertvorakul went to six on the play; but it was a fast hand, Turn 1 Monastery Swiftspear into Dragon Fodder, pumping the monk. Dagen was in the back foot, using Draconic Roar on the monk but still facing the goblin tokens. With an Atarka's Command in hand, but without green mana, the Thai team tanked about how to proceed. After conferring, they cast a second Dragon Fodder for four Goblins.

Dagen sighed, unable to respond, taking 4 damage the following turn. On turn four, Dagen cast a Thunderbreak Regent and passed the turn.

Sirilertvorakul tapped the top of his deck and drew…a green mana source! His teammates pumped their fists and Dagen sighed, expecting the Atarka combo. But Sirilertvorakul had another kill in mind. He swung in his team, pumping them with Atarka's Command, and then finishing off his opponent with burn.

Pierre Dagen 1 – Veerapat Sirilertvorakul 2

Thailand was now only one win away from a historic achievement for their Magic community.

"I feel very excited," said Pasidparchya afterwards. "I was very nervous just now. It really was a top deck. I think we're at a disadvantage playing against the Mardu deck. We had to mulligan down to six, then gamble playing into Radiant Flames. But we'd lose anyway if we didn't, and doing so paid off."

With that, Thailand was the first team into the finals of the World Magic Cup in 2015.

Thailand defeats France 2-1 and advances to the finals!

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