Semifinals: Greece vs. Belarus

Posted in Event Coverage on November 20, 2016

By Frank Karsten

There were 73. Now there were just four. At this stage in the tournament, four nations remained, all from Europe. Belgium and Italy were on one side of the bracket, while this quarterfinals match pit Greece against Belarus. Tension filled the air as the players silently waited for their match to start.

The Teams

Greece, captained by Bill Chronopoulos, was hoping to do one better than they had done two years ago at the 2014 World Magic Cup, where they had finished in second place. Chronopoulos was a member of that fateful 2014 team, and he had his eyes set on finally claiming the trophy that they narrowly missed back then. His teammates this year were Panagiotis Papadopoulos, playing in his third World Magic Cup, and relative newcomers Petros Tziotis and Nikolaos Kaponis. Kaponis took the coach's chair in this round.

For Belarus, this weekend marked their first World Magic Cup Top 8. Last year they came very close with a 9th-place finish; this year they made it to the playoffs. Their small but strong community back home was cheering for them, and they promptly won in the quarterfinals. Belarus's team captain was Pavel Miadzvedski, playing in his fourth successive World Magic Cup. He was aided by Ihar Klionski, who was in his third World Magic Cup. Like Greece, Belarus also included two debutants: Hleb Bantsevich, who donned the coach mantle, and Dmitry Andronchik.

The Decks

In terms of Unified Modern decks, there were six different archetypes across the two teams, but each team's overall configuration had a similar structure. Both lineups were as follows:

  • An Inkmoth Nexus deck (Infect for Greece and Affinity for Belarus);
  • A Stomping Ground deck (Dredge for Greece and Jund for Belarus); and
  • A Temple Garden deck (Abzan for Greece and Bant Eldrazi for Belarus).

What's more, as far as these lands were concerned, the three matchups were all mirror matches.

Seat C: Panagiotis Papadopoulos (Infect) vs. Pavel Miadzvedski (Affinity)

Infect was the favorite in this matchup because the deck is half a turn faster and has good artifact removal spells in the sideboard. Greece had the additional advantage of being on the play because of their superior performance during the Swiss rounds.

In Game 1, Papadopoulos dished out some early infect counters with the Glistener Elf/Noble Hierarch pair before Miadzvedski broke it up with Galvanic Blast. Glistener Elf bit the dust, but Papadopoulos still had plenty of threats remaining. Most importantly, he added Blighted Agent to the battlefield on the next turn. Miadzvedski, having already used his Galvanic Blast, did not have an answer to the unblockable creature, and Might of Old Krosa made it big enough to take the first game.

In Game 2, Miadzvedski kept an opening hand with Glimmervoid, Mox Opal, Ornithopter, two Whipflares, Cranial Plating, and Arcbound Ravager. It would be a great hand so long as he could find a land or zero-cost artifact on top of his deck and, moreover, Papadopoulos did not have any artifact disruption. As it turned out, only one of those things came true. Miadzvedski did find Memnite on top of his deck, but Papadopoulos responded with Nature's Claim on Mox Opal. On Papadopoulos's second turn, he used Dismember and another Nature's Claim to take out both creatures, snagging Glimmervoid for free. It was brutal. Reduced to zero permanents, Miadzvedski could not come back.

Panagiotis Papadopoulos defeated Pavel Miadzvedski 2-0.

Seat A: Bill Chronopoulos (Dredge) vs. Dmitry Andronchik (Jund)

This matchup traditionally favored Dredge, but Jund could still stand a chance with a timely graveyard hate card; Andronchik had 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in his main deck and 4 Leyline of the Void in his sideboard.

Would Dmitry Andronchik (left) be able to find his graveyard hate cards in time to stop Bill Chronopoulos?

In Game 1, Chronopoulos started with Faithless Looting on turn one, discarding Bloodghast and Prized Amalgam, and then had to reveal his hand to Andronchik's Thoughtseize. He spread out Narcomoeba, Scourge Devil, Insolent Neonate, Cathartic Reunion, and Stomping Ground on the table, indicating that he had some velocity and recursion potential, but no dredge card yet. Andronchik sent Cathartic Reunion to the graveyard.

Three turns later, after some Scourge Devil shenanigans, Andronchik was down to 4 life facing Bloodghast and Prized Amalgam, but he stabilized with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Given enough time, Andronchik would easily win with the legendary Vampire, but Chronopoulos knew exactly how he could deal the final 4 points of damage. Dredging as many cards as he could as quickly as possible, he found Conflagrate and flashed it back for the win.

In Game 2, Andronchik was thrilled to see Leyline of the Void in his opening hand. He was even happier to see that Chronopoulos did not have a Destructive Revelry to destroy the enchantment. Instead, Chronopoulos deployed the "aggro" curve of Insolent Neonate, Narcomoeba, and Prized Amalgam. It looked more like a Limited game than anything else, and Andronchik was easily able to contain the assault with his removal spells.

Chronopoulos still had some hope because Andronchik was stuck with Blood Crypt, Blackcleave Cliffs, and Swamp as his sole lands for a large portion of the game, leaving him unable to cast a win condition. In fact, a single Narcomoeba took Andronchik down to a single-digit life total before he found Verdant Catacombs on top of his deck. But once his mana base was set, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Tragtusk came down, and they easily overpowered the sad Narcomoeba.

With both players tied, the final game was held to ensure all deciding games would be shown on camera.

Seat B: Petros Tziotis (Abzan) vs. Ihar Klionski (Bant Eldrazi)

This matchup was close, although Bant Eldrazi would have an edge in the late game if it could hold on to an Eldrazi Displacer.

In Game 1, Klionski spent his early turns on Engineered Explosives. It ensured that Tziotis's Dark Confidant couldn't get out of hand, but it also meant that Klionski wasn't summoning any Eldrazi early on.

After the early exchanges, the battlefield got cluttered with creatures. At first, Klionski still looked to be ahead thanks to a pair of Noble Hierarchs that enabled him set up more profitable attacks, but Tziotis locked up the board with multiple Siege Rhinos and started to attack in the air with Lingering Souls tokens. They took Klionski down to 3 life until he found Eldrazi Skyspawner as a flying defense, but at that point it was already too late. Tziotis recurred Siege Rhino with Liliana, the Last Hope, and the 3-point drain sealed the deal.

Petros Tziotis's (left) Siege was the deciding factor in Game 1 against Ihar Klionski.

Game 2 featured a lot of dead Eldrazi Displacers and a questionable Worship. Klionski drew three copies of Eldrazi Displacer over the course of the game, but they all fell to Thoughtseize and two copies of Abrupt Decay. The Worship that Klionski had boarded in also didn't do him much good. First, he lost his board to Damnation. Then, Tarmogoyf and Lingering Souls made short work of his life total, and Klionski didn't even have another creature to turn Worship back on. Even if he had, Tziotis was holding on to Siege Rhino to force the crucial life loss. It was not to be for the Belarusian team. They had to settle for a Top 4 finish, and Klionski graciously extended his hand in defeat.

Petros Tziotis defeated Ihar Klionski 2-0.

Greece defeated Belarus 2-0 and advanced to the finals!

Belarus, Seat A - Dmitry Andronchik, Jund

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Belarus, Seat B - Ihar Klionski, Bant Eldrazi

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Belarus, Seat C - Pavel Miadzvedski, Affinity

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Greece, Seat A - Bill Chronopoulos, Dredge

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Greece, Seat B - Petros Tziotis, Abzan

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Greece, Seat C - Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Infect

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