Every match at the World Championship promises to be an epic one. It was impossible not to be, when 24 of the best have converged for the greatest tournament of the year. Today, we're kick-starting the weekend with a Modern Masters 2015 Edition Booster Draft, as well as a showdown between pair of Canadian Pro Tour Champions.
There are a lot of similarities between the pair of close-knitted friends. Both players are 27 years old this year, and this also happens to be both players' second appearance at the World Championship, a testament to their consistency and prowess.
Alexander Hayne and Shaun McLaren ascended to superstardom when they won their respective Pro Tours, both in Spain, no less. Hayne was the champion at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona, while McLaren took down Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia.
Hayne's been on quite a tear in the past season, clocking an alarming 42 uncapped Pro Points on the Grand Prix Circuit. He is showing no signs of slowing down, seeing how he had won Canada's first round of World Magic Cup Qualifiers last weekend.
With that victory, it means that the upcoming World Magic Cup in Barcelona will mark the second time that both players will be representing Canada.
The two Canadian Pro Tour champions Alexander Hayne and Shaun McLaren faced off in the first round of the 2015 World Championship.
"This match kind of decides who calls the shots at the World Magic Cup!" exclaimed Hayne with his trademark smile.
McLaren raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
The humble Canadian National Champion was too polite to reply with a more retaliating retort.
McLaren has assembled a white-black-green tokens deck, featuring Spectral Procession, Scatter the Seeds, and Ant Queen. Left unchecked, McLaren could very easily flood the board with Eldrazi Spawn, Spirit, and Saproling tokens before delivering the final punch with Wilt-Leaf Liege, Fortify, or a pair of Overwhelming Stampede.
Hayne's five-color deck has a red, green, and blue base, with light splashes to maximize domain and sunburst. The two Simic Growth Chambers and a trio of Fiery Falls would help Hayne fix his mana to cast his powerful spells, in particular the Savage Twister and All is Dust that was crucial in this matchup.
"Your deck looks pretty sweet," Hayne said. "How many Modern Masters 2015 Edition drafts did you do last week?"
"Not too many, actually," McLaren replied. "Fifteen. Just enough to draft all the other decks that aren't this deck!"
With that, they proceeded to roll the die, and Hayne won the right to play first. This is the first match of the weekend where players will be utilizing the Vancouver Mulligan, which is also has "somewhat-Canadian" origins. Fortunately, both players were happy with their initial seven.
Tukatongue Thallid and Nest Invader were McLaren's first creatures, which helped to power out Conclave Phalanx and Scatter the Seeds. In a matter of four turns, McLaren had assembled a team of seven creatures. The accompanying Scion of the Wilds was pretty intimidating too!
Hayne could only put up Dragonsoul Knight and Lorescale Coatl, the latter which McLaren promptly killed with Grim Affliction. At the cost of losing a couple of smaller dorks, McLaren attacked with his team on successive turns to reduce Hayne down to 2 life.
McLaren offers up a start that leaves Hayne grim.
Hayne tried to restore balance to the board, creating a zoo on his side with Bestial Menace and Plaxcaster Frogling. That's one Elephant, one Wolf, one Snake, and a Frog Mutant for those counting the variety of animals at home.
However, McLaren ended things right there with a top-decked Overwhelming Stampede.
A Mountain helped Hayne cast Burst Lightning to kill the opposing 2/2, while his Swamp enabled him to summon a fully-sunbursted Etched Oracle. Hayne then added Plains to the board, enabling a 5/5 Skyreach Manta. Plaxcaster Frogling created a safety net for Hayne, since it was able to grant a form of shroud to all of his creatures.
Despite Hayne's creatures being very powerful, they were not numerous. His army of three was quickly outnumbered.
Hayne does his best to fight back against a small but sprawled army.
Hayne decided he's seen enough and decided to pull the trigger on All is Dust.
After the dust had settled, Hayne had Etched Oracle and Skyreach Manta by his side, while McLaren was left with Lodestone Golem, three Eldrazi Spawn tokens, and a Saproling token generated from the dead Tukatongue Thallid.
Revealing the first of two Overwhelming Stampedes from his hand, McLaren proceeded to give his entire team +5/+5 and trample. After some quick math, Hayne extended the hand in defeat.
"I guess you'll be the boss at the World Magic Cup," Hayne said.
McLaren could only smile and return the handshake.
Hayne 0 - McLaren 2