Every match at the Magic World Championship is monumental, but even in the biggest tournament of the year there are matches that stand out.
The final battle of the undefeated players, for instance.
No. 14-ranked Mike Sigrist came into the tournament riding high, and fate has continued to smile on the man who made a return appearance to the World Championship while juggling his dual roles as a professional Magic player and a full-time stay-at-home dad to twin girls. He was squaring off against Márcio Carvalho—the Draft Master himself—who had unsurprisingly sailed through the Limited rounds with a perfect record to run his Shadows over Innistrad block Draft record to 15-0 in premier events.
The two met on a collision course in Round 5, with the winner set to emerge as the last undefeated player.
This match represented the two pillars of the Standard format: Collected Company versus Emrakul, the Promised End. Carvalho arrived with a teched-out Bant Company list, including Elder Deep-Fiend in his main deck to allow him to go over the top in the Collected Company mirrors. Meanwhile, Sigrist was happy to go higher still, topping out at Emrakul, the Promised End in his Temur Emerge deck.
With the chance to become the only 5-0 in the room on the line with this match, Sigrist was certainly disappointed to mulligan down to just four cards in the opener. Still, he was relatively thrilled to see that hand develop into a turn-two Jace, Vryn's Prodigy followed by a Pilgrim's Eye to give himself a shot to claw out of the hole.
Carvalho had no intention of letting that happen. A second-turn Selfless Spirit allowed him to begin attacking, and when Sigrist offered a trade with the Pilgrim's Eye, Carvalho had the Dromoka's Command to pump his Spirit to survive combat and fight the Jace, sending both of Sigrist's creatures to the graveyard.
With no way to help emerge Elder Deep-Fiend in his hand and no Jace to filter through his deck, Sigrist quickly found himself on the beatdown end of a Spell Queller and Krallenhorde Howler. When Carvalho deployed his own Elder Deep-Fiend to add to his already-impressive board, Sigrist decided to throw in the towel.
Marcio Carvalho wouldn't let Mike Sigrist find an out in Game 1.
It was Carvalho's turn to mulligan in Game 2, and he opted for a risky six-card hand with only one land. The gambit failed, and a missed land drop on the second turn meant that Sigrist's Gnarlwood Dryad had the green light to beat down. A second land arrived late for Carvalho, but by that point he was facing down Ishkanah, Grafwidow and a full complement of Spider tokens. Carvalho got on the board with a Duskwatch Recruiter, but Traverse the Ulvenwald to fetch up Elder Deep-Fiend sealed the second game for Sigrist and sent the duo into a deciding game.
And what a Game 3 it was. Both players started slow; triple Evolving Wilds for Carvalho and a Gather the Pack on turn two for Sigrist that immediately turned on delirium with land, sorcery, artifact, and creature (thanks to Pilgrim's Eye). That allowed Sigrist to Traverse the Ulvenwald for Shivan Reef to fix his colors and play Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. All Carvalho had was Nissa, Vastwood Seer, which meant that Jace was able to transform without hassle on the next turn. Sigrist matched Carvalho's Nissa with one of his own, leaving the boards equal but for Jace, Telepath Unbound.
The board heavily favored Sigrist, but a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for Carvalho quickly changed that. The Nissas traded on Sigrist's next turn, leaving it a battle of planeswalkers. Unfortunately for the 2014–15 Player of the Year, Gideon brought an army along with him. Ishkanah, Grafwidow gave Sigrist an army of his own as he passed with Elder Deep-Fiend ready to go, but an end-step Collected Company for Carvalho kicked things into overdrive.
When the dust cleared, Reflector Mage bounced Ishkanah and removed the Deep-Fiend threat, while Selfless Spirit protected Carvalho's team from Sigrist's Kozilek's Return. Carvalho calmly untapped, cleared out the Spider tokens with Declaration in Stone, made an emblem with Gideon and knocked Jace down to a single loyalty counter, opting to burn the Gideon for an emblem rather than attack with it thanks to another pair of copies in his hand. This allowed Jace to survive on life support. Still, in the span of just one turn Carvalho had completely flipped the board state and taken charge of the game.
Desperately in need of a comeback, Sigrist went digging with Grapple with the Past, and it delivered a Pilgrim's Eye. That allowed Sigrist to chain into Elder Deep-Fiend, exiling Kozilek's Return from his graveyard to clear away Carvalho's board and leave him with Jace as well as a 5/6 to show for it.
With the board flipped twice in as many turns, Carvalho found himself on the back foot, and tried to reload with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar alongside Sylvan Advocate. It was a good turn, but one that opened the door to a big play from Sigrist.
He had exactly that, with the Jace that had been left alive earlier going down to 0 loyalty to allow Sigrist to cast Traverse the Ulvenwald from his graveyard. That Traverse found Emrakul, the Promised End, and Sigrist tapped out to play it.
Mike Sigrist focuses on the task at hand.
With Carvalho now officially under the influence of the Eldrazi, Sigrist set out to do as much damage as possible with Carvalho's turn. He started by offering Sylvan Advocate to Emrakul in combat, then followed up by casting the Gideon out of Carvalho's hand to remove the one in play. He sent that one to the graveyard as well by creating a second emblem. This was something Carvalho wouldn't have minded earlier in the game, but with no creatures in play it was of little use.
Satisfied with the damage he caused, Sigrist allowed Carvalho to move on to his "normal" turn. Carvalho used that turn to deploy Tireless Tracker and Sylvan Advocate to the board to try and regroup, but was forced to fall to 7 life from an Emrakul hit. When Elder Deep-Fiend arrived in Carvalho's next upkeep to rob him of lands, the writing was on the wall. A blank draw step later and Carvalho extended the hand, congratulating Sigrist on becoming the final undefeated player.
Mike Sigrist defeats Márcio Carvalho 2–1.