Stage 2, Round 3: Macedonia vs. Australia

Posted in Event Coverage on November 19, 2016

By Chapman Sim

It has been a long day, and yet, it has also been very fulfilling. However, the best (or the worst) is yet to come. Despite making it past Stage 1, both teams find themselves in a position where winning this match would send them straight into the Top 8 for a shot at becoming the World Magic Cup champions.

Interestingly, both teams have played against each other during Stage 1, Round 2. While it was the Australians who emerged victorious that time, the Macedonians certainly didn't want history to repeat itself.

Team Macedonia

Macedonia's story has been a rather amazing one. Despite only having a combined total of 23 lifetime Pro Points, it didn't dampen their amazing run all weekend. After defeating and eliminating Israel, Canada and United States in succession, they lost to Belarus in the previous round, which meant that they would need to win this one to keep up with their amazing streak.

Led by Macedonia National Champion Miro Popov, it is his hope that they can make it through to the Top 8 together with Ivo Neskovik, Martin Nanik, and Nebojsa Stamenkov. However, Nebojsa Stamenkov shed some insight on the dire situation.

“We lost to Australia earlier in the day because of how horrible our matchups were," he explained. "We were simply sitting in the wrong seats for all three matches and we got smashed 0-3. Even though we can exchange players between Stage 1 and Stage 2, the positions of the decks don't change. That means that we're still facing the same bad matchups that we had previously. We beat Israel [Shahar Shenhar's team], Canada [Alexander Hayne's team] and United States [Owen Turtenwald's team] one after another, but I think we're going to lose 0-3 to Australia again.”

Macedonia has Infect in Seat A, Abzan in Seat B, and Dredge in Seat C.

Team Australia

Australian National Champion and Grand Prix Melbourne Champion David Mines is here this weekend with three relative-greenhorns James Wilks, Ryan Cubit, and Garry Lau. Nonetheless, they've proven to be worthy of the Top 8 by even making it this far. All four players relished the idea of this favorable matchup but one can't get too comfortable just yet. Despite what Macedonia had to say, they'll still need to play at the top of their game and hope that their expectations out.

Australia has Dredge in Seat A, Bant Eldrazi in Seat B and Blue-Red Kiln Fiend in Seat C.


In Game 1, Wilks quickly used Cathartic Reunion to put a quarter of his deck into the library, thanks to him dredging back Golgari Grave-Troll and Stinkweed Imp. Popov could only manage Blighted Agent, but at least it was the most important card he could have. Since it was unblockable, there is still a very good chance that Wilks could lose on the next turn.

Because of that imminent threat, Wilks wisely chose to discard six cards to flashback Conflagrate, assigning 3 to Blighted Agent (playing around Mutagenic Growth) and 3 to its controller. Dropping Copperline Gorge, that triggered landfall to resurrect a pair of Bloodghasts and a pair of Prized Amalgams. The follow-up Cathartic Reunion multiplied his board presence into two Narcomoebas, two Bloodghasts, and four Prized Amalgams. To be honest, Popov really had no chance in winning from this point, and hoped that his sideboard would be able to combat the powerful graveyard-based deck.

In Game 2, Popov kept a very good opening hand of seven cards with double Gitaxian Probe, albeit with a caveat: it contained no lands. He decided that double Glistener Elf and double Distortion Strike were crucial in beating Dredge and eventually decided that it was worth of a keep.

After firing off the pair of Gitaxian Probes, the gambit didn't work out, and he could only stare down as Wilks tore through his deck with Faithless Looting. Bloodghast entered the battlefield, as did Narcomoeba, and a duo of each Bloodghast and Prized Amalgam.

When Popov finally found two lands, he could only put up Spellskite in a futile effort to defend. Ancient Grudge got rid of it, and Wilks crashed in with his entire team over the next two turns.

Miro Popov 0 – James Wilks 2


In Game 1, Nanik used Thoughtseize to discard Reality Smasher and Maelstrom Pulse to destroy Spellskite in a bid to both clear the way for and to bolster Tarmogoyf. However, Mines quickly assembled the “combo” of Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer, which the Macedonian player had no removal for.

Nanik did spend his net two turns casting and flashing black not one, but two copies of Lingering Souls, creating a seemingly large army of eight Spirit tokens. However, Mines maneuvered his blocks properly and found sufficient time to “blink” all the tokens away from the board, before clawing back into the game with Drowner of Hope.

Nanik chuckled at his plight. “It's like Bant Eldrazi was designed to crush Abzan. I drew pretty well and yet it's still not good enough!”

“Yeah, Eldrazi Displacer is kind of powerful when left unchecked," replied Mines. "After getting rid of all the tokens and casting Drowner of Hope it is really difficult for you."

Nonetheless, Nanik held his head up high and tried his very best to equalize the score. In Game 2, he opened with Elves of Deep Shadow and Smuggler's Copter. Next, it was Fulminator Mage—crewing Smuggler's Copter—which was sacrificed to destroy Eldrazi Temple.

Macedonia's Martin Nanik and Australia's David Mines were locked in a matchup that featured an edge for Mines, and the tournament life of Macedonia in jeopardy.

That set Mines back for a turn but unbeknownst to Nanik, he was severely land-flooded. Mustering only Eldrazi Skyspawner and Eldrazi Displacer, Nanik broke up the duo by sending the 3/3 on a Path to Exile before plucking away the final threat in Mines's hand—Reality Smasher—with Thoughtseize.

Then, Siege Rhino entered the battlefield and somehow miraculously found a way to fit himself inside the cockpit of Smuggler's Copter. It resulted in uncontrollable giggling from everyone at the featured match area. Mines had Path to Exile to deal with the Vehicle, but Siege Rhino remained on the board, doing what it did best. Smashing face over the next few turns, Nanik had equalized the score, giving Team Macedonia some hope in the face of adversity.

In the meantime, this game was held so that the cameras could focus on the match happening in Seat C.

Martin Nanik 1 – David Mines 1


Stamenkov opened with Faithless Looting and Insolent Neonate, which quickly netted him Prized Amalgam and double Narcomoeba. However, Lau was not to be outdone, landing Monastery Swiftspear and Thing in the Ice on the board.

If you must know, one of the very few ways that Dredge can interact with an opponent is Conflagrate. To kill Thing in the Ice, Stamenkov was forced to discard almost his entire hand to flashback Conflagrate or risk it transforming the very next turn. However, the effort was in vain, because Lau protected it with a timely Apostle's Blessing, which not only kept Thing in the Ice in play but also removing a counter from it.

Garry Lau leaned on the card quality of his blue and red spells to force Dredge to play the game that the Australian wanted to play.

Lau then followed up with a couple of spells and presented a game-winning Temur Battle Rage. Even if a 4/5 Monastery Swiftspear and a double striking 7/8 Awoken Horror wasn't lethal, it likely was going to be the next turn.

In Game 2, Stamenkov tried to get the ball rolling by discarding Stinkweed Imp to Insolent Neonate. Lau undid all the work with Ravenous Trap, a very potent trump against what his opponent was trying to do. Since Stamenkov now had no graveyard to meddle with, he began to take some extreme measures to put cards into the graveyard, such as casting Conflagrate (for zero damage) as well as Life from the Loam (for zero lands) for the sole purpose of getting them out of his hand.

Lau offered Thing in the Ice even when Conflagrate was in plain view. Stamenkov discarded his entire hand to flashback Conflagrate, which was exactly what the Australians had expected. Firing off another Ravenous Trap, that left Stamenkov with absolutely no cards in hand, no cards in graveyard, and no creatures on the board.

Dredge is terrible at functioning from this point going forward and it was painful to watch for any Dredge player, as well as Stamenkov's teammates. Drawing into Prized Amalgam and Golgari Grave-Troll, Stamenkov was pretty much defenseless against Monastery Swiftspear and a second Thing in the Ice.

Serum Visions, Gitaxian Probe, Lightning Bolt and Temur Battle Rage were more than enough to transform Thing in the Ice and to prompt the Macedonians to offer the handshake.

Nebojsa Stamenkov 0 – Garry Lau 2

Team Australia wins 2-0 and advances to the Top 8 of the 2016 World Magic Cup!

Australia, Seat A—Dredge

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Australia, Seat B - Bant Eldrazi

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Australia, Seat C - Blue-Red Kiln Fiend

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Macedonia, Seat A—Infect

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Macedonia, Seat B—Abzan

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Macedonia, Seat C—Dredge

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Team Australia defeats Team Macedonia to advance to the Top 8!

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