Stage 1, Round 4: Canada vs. Macedonia

Posted in Event Coverage on November 19, 2016

By Chapman Sim

After few exciting rounds of matches, we were finally at the last round of Stage 1, where both teams in the feature match area were playing a match that could possibly be their last in the 2016 World Magic Cup.

To put things in perspective, the winning team would move on to Stage 2, and be assured at least $1,500 and 4 Pro Points per player, with the potential to earn more. The losing teams would have to be content with $1,000 and 3 Pro Points, and shelve away their dreams of becoming World Magic Cup Champions for at least another year.

Team Canada

If you were asked to pick some teams for your fantasy league, Canada was likely to make it to your list of contenders.

The team was not only led by Canada National Champion and Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Champion No. 21-Ranked Alexander Hayne, but also because two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Jacob Wilson very quickly took down the first World Magic Cup Qualifier to join the team. Brian Su and Felix Tse rounded out the rest of Team Canada, and they'd brought a combination of Infect, TitanShift, and Abzan to the tables. Tse was coaching this time 'round, and all eyes would be on the big wigs to pull their weight.

Team Macedonia

As teams were gradually being eliminated, it was nice to hear—at least for the Macedonians—that Team Macedonia was still in contention. It's always nice to witness lesser-represented countries take their spot under the limelight. National Champion Miro Popov was here with Ivo Neskovik, Martin Nanik, and Nebojsa Stamenkov. Despite being dwarfed in terms of previous Magic achievements, things could still work out if their matchups were in their favor.

Between the three of them (and Stamenkov as the coach), the Macedonians had Infect, Abzan, and Dredge in Seats A, B, and C respectively.


This matchup was low on interaction between players, barring Vines of Vastwood, Twisted Image, and the occasional Spellskite, Dismember, or Gut Shot. This meant that it was predominantly a race to see who could get to the finish line first.

Both players opened with Noble Hierarch, but it was Hayne who resolved Blighted Agent first. This was a significant advantage in the mirror because it shifted all the pressure onto Popov. Popov tried to kill the opposing Noble Hierarch with Twisted Image, but Hayne saved his creature with Vines of Vastwood.

Untapping for Might of Old Krosa and a kicked Vines of Vastwood and adding an exalted trigger, that meant exactly ten poison counters landing on Popov!

This prompted the Modern coach, Nebojsa Stamenkov, to comment. "Well, a turn-three kill, can't really complain!"

"Actually, I've played a lot of mirrors this weekend and I've got killed twice on turn two. I did kill a lot of people on turn three, though," grinned Hayne.

Alexander Hayne shares his "enthusiasm."

With one game down, it was not a good sign when Popov was forced to mulligan down to five cards in Game 2. Nonetheless, he was the first to stick Blighted Agent—but with so few cards in his hand, he did not have the cards required to steal the game.

Hayne began with Noble Hierarch on turn one, followed by Blighted Agent and Glistener Elf on turn two. Both creatures went in for 2 poison damage and on the next turn, Hayne simply untapped and aimed Blossoming Defense at Blighted Agent. Popov tried to fizzle it with Vines of Vastwood, but Hayne had the last laugh with a kicked copy of his own. That created a 7/7 Blighted Agent, and after you factor in the exalted trigger from Noble Hierarch, meant that Macedonia was one match down.

Alexander Hayne defeated Miro Popov 2-0.


Sliding one seat over, we had a matchup between Brian Su's TitanShift and Martin Nanik's Abzan. It was Su's wish to put a lot of lands onto the battlefield before casting Primeval Titan or Scapeshift. If he succeeded, that would likely kill his opponent in one fell swoop with a flurry of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers. Nanik's job was to prevent that, and he had some tools in his arsenal, such as Thoughtseize, to force Su to discard key cards. Nanik also had a wide selection of threats to quickly close the game.

In Game 1, Thoughtseizes went for Khalni Heart Expedition and Scapeshift as Nanik quickly amassed a board comprising Smuggler's Copter, Anafenza, the Foremost, and two 5/6 Tarmogoyfs. With Su stuck on three lands and only a pair of Courser of Kruphixes, he was soon sent into chump-blocking mode. When he did survive to see six or seven lands, a topdecked Scapeshift would still have been able to turn things around, but alas, it was not to be.

Brian Su (right) hopes for a timely topdeck while Felix Tse looks on.

"I think I was really unlucky that game," Su bemoaned. "This deck doesn't usually get stuck on three lands, and I think I still had a chance to win if managed to find Scapeshift with the help of Courser of Kruphix and all my fetch lands. Better luck next time."

In Game 2, Su suspended Search for Tomorrow and summoned Courser of Kruphix right on cue. Nanik spent his second turn to summon Tarmogoyf, and used his third turn to discard Primeval Titan with Thoughtseize and kill Courser of Kruphix with Path to Exile.

This series of plays left Su with only a single land in his hand and five lands on the board. Down to literally no resources, Su had to rely only on whatever the top of his deck served him. If he could manage to draw another land and then Scapeshift, he might still have a chance.

Topdecking Summoner's Pact for Primeval Titan allowed Su to search his deck for two Mountains. When they entered the battlefield, two Valakut triggers got rid of Tarmogoyf. Nanik calmly played Liliana of the Veil to kill Primeval Titan, then added Anafenza, the Foremost and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to lock up the match.

Martin Nanik defeated Brian Su 2-0.

Both teams were now tied at one apiece and everything rested on the outcome of the third and final seat's results!


With the fate of their teams and their countries hinging on this very important duel, all players huddled around the final table in eager anticipation of a victory that would send them into Stage 2. After so much hard work, they certainly didn't want to go home too early.

Wilson began disrupting with double Inquisition of Kozilek, hitting Insolent Neonate and Cathartic Reunion. However, Neskovik was able to bounce back with a little bit of dredging, along with two flashbacked Faithless Lootings. Things do escalate quickly once Dredge gathers a head of steam, and Neskovik quickly dumped more than half of his library into his graveyard in a matter of turns. For his efforts, he received triple Narcomoebas and quadruple Prized Amalgams against Wilson's empty board. Wilson's only line of defense, a single Path to Exile, was less than sufficient to ensure his survival.

Jacob Wilson's Dredge deck had the ability to amass a formidable board in very little time.

In Game 2, Wilson took the same route of stripping away key enablers to halt the Dredge deck in its tracks. Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek took away Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion, and Neskovik was forced to pass his third turn without a third land or any action.

This allowed Wilson to assemble Tireless Tracker, Tarmogoyf, and four Spirit tokens courtesy of Lingering Souls. When Neskovik did find a land it was Dakmor Salvage, delaying Stinkweed Imp's arrival by a precious turn. No matter, though. Wilson had the Path to Exile and the overwhelming forces to seal up the second game.

As both players shuffled up for the third and final game, the atmosphere was tense. It was all down this this one last game. It looked like things were going well for Canada because Wilson began Game 3 with Leyline of the Void. If the Macedonians did not have a solution to it, that single enchantment basically invalidated their entire strategy.

However, Neskovik was ready with Nature's Claim, to the disappointment of Wilson and his teammates. The saving grace was that Neskovik had a very, very, very slow start. Wilson's Inquisition of Kozilek took out Cathartic Reunion, which reduced Neskovik's speed to a crawl.

Insolent Neonate was sacrificed and Life from the Loam was discarded and dredged back. Since there was no sign of Stinkweed Imp or Golgari Grave-Troll anywhere, Neskovik was forced to cast Life from the Loam just for the sake of getting it into the graveyard so that he could dredge it back again next turn. He shook his head as he repeated this for the second, third, and fourth time as absolutely nothing relevant showed up at all.

It was plain to see that dredging 3 was very different from dredging 5 or 6.

Fortunately, he wasn't punished for his lack of speed because Wilson was stuck on two lands and could only manage Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer. Eventually Neskovik found Faithless Looting, which sped up the game exponentially!

Ivo Neskovik demonstrates how close they are to victory while the rest of Team Macedonia looks on.

Once Faithless Looting was cast and flashed back, it resulted in a chain reaction where the board went from nothing to one Bloodghast, two Narcomoebas, and four Prized Amalgams. Since Neskovik had been casting Life from the Loam so many times, he had a full grip of lands in his hand to fuel the Conflagrate out of the graveyard. Once Neskovik sent 8 damage directly to Wilson's dome and attacked with his entire team, Wilson extended his hand.

Against all odds, the underdogs had defeated the favorites!

Ivo Neskovik defeated Jacob Wilson 2-1.


Team Macedonia triumphs and advances to Stage 2. Team Canada is eliminated from the 2016 World Magic Cup.

Alexander Hayne's Infect

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Jacob Wilson's Abzan

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Brian Su's TitanShift

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Miro Popov's Infect

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Ivo Neskovic's Dredge

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Martin Nanik's Abzan

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