Which cards had the biggest impact on the 2015 Magic: The Gathering World Championship? Let's take a look.
5. Archangel of Tithes
While this impressive mythic rare from Magic Origins has been under-appreciated, Samuel Black decided to embrace her grace by playing the full set in his White Devotion deck, alongside Knight of the White Orchid and Mastery of the Unseen to harness the power of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
As the only player who believed in her prowess, the decision to do so paid off handsomely, and Black was able to go 4–0 in the Standard portion. With the Theros block rotating to make way for the highly-anticipated Battle for Zendikar expansion, only time will tell whether Archangel of Tithes will remain a powerhouse in Standard.
4. Soulblade Djinn
The 2015 World Champion Seth Manfield credits the immensely powerful first-picked Soulblade Djinn in helping him go undefeated in the Magic Origins booster draft portion of this event. With excellent stats, evasion, and a game-breaking team-boosting ability, it certainly is a welcome addition to any blue draft deck.
Quite interestingly, 2012 World Champion Yuuya Watanabe, who was also in the same draft pod as Manfield, did not echo that sentiment. As a move to avoid playing with Islands and as a bid to solidify the downstream player in blue, he shipped Soulblade Djinn in favor of Deadbridge Shaman. Such is a display of clear signals and cooperative drafting, two of the most important, yet often overlooked, skills in the exciting format of Booster Draft.
This little story is an indication of how multi-faceted and strategic Magic: The Gathering can be, as reflected by the decisions made by the very best players in the world, at the highest level of competition such as the World Championship.
3. Ghirapur Æther Grid
In terms of Modern innovation, nothing quite beats the addition of the seemingly innocuous enchantment in Samuel Black and Paul Rietzl's Affinity deck. It was described as the perfect trump against the mirror match which the team of two had (correctly) anticipated, while also being excellent against "the Lingering Souls decks and Infect."
In the constantly evolving Modern metagame, it's nice to see newly printed cards making waves in a non-rotating format by providing an all-new angle of attack. This is also a great tale of how a little innovation can make all the difference in a tournament, seeing how the dynamic duo both made it to the Top 4, hand in hand.
2. Dragonlord Ojutai
Apparently, Yuuya Watanabe feels that it's good enough to be played even in a high-powered format such as Modern, and included a pair of the legendary Dragon alongside side Minamo, School at Water's Edge!
1. Siege Rhino
When three of the four players in the Top 4 are playing the same card, it is a mark of that card's sheer power.
Seth Manfield pulled ahead with the first Siege Rhino in the final game, causing Owen Turtenwald to fall behind. However, Turtenwald displayed that it was entirely possible to fight fire with fire. Or in this case, fight rhino with rhino!
Producing his first copy of Siege Rhino to stabilize the board, and then following up with another later on, it looked like Turtenwald was about to make a comeback. At least, that was until Manfield attacked with his pair of Vampire tokens—generated by Sorin, Solemn Visitor—and ending the game with two MORE Siege Rhinos which he had been sandbagging the entire game!
That clinched the match for him, and he didn't even need the fourth copy of Siege Rhino that was sitting in his hand! Prevailing in the rhino war, Manfield took home $50,000 and the title of 2015 World Champion and once again demonstrated to the world that Siege Rhino remains a force to be reckoned with.