Draft Master Márcio Carvalho was playing a fairly standard Bant Company deck, with Duskwatch Recruiter, Tireless Tracker, and so on. It was the deck that everyone expected going into the World Championship, but it's arguably the best deck in Standard for a reason.
Reigning World Champion Seth Manfield, meanwhile, was on Bant Spirits, a deck that doesn't care about card advantage creatures, but that aims to curve out with Mausoleum Wanderer, Rattlechains, and Nebelgast Herald. With the right draw, it can present a very fast clock in the air.
As family comes first for Manfield, he prepared little for this event until he got to Seattle, at which point he basically locked himself in his hotel room and started getting reps in. In the span of two days, he played over a hundred matches on Magic Online, trying out a large variety of decks. One of those decks was Bant Spirits, a brew that his team East-West Bowl had for Pro Tour Eldritch Moon but that they did not pull the trigger on. Seth felt comfortable running the deck in this metagame, and so far, it worked out for him, as both players had 5-1 records going into this round.
"Going back to back on Worlds?" Carvalho asked as he sat down for the match.
"Long way from that," Manfield answered with a smile.
Márcio Carvalho and Seth Manfield squared off in a match that pitted one flavor of Bant against another.
Nevertheless, both players sat on top of the standings at the start of the round, and these were two of the best players in the world. Manfield has had a mind-boggling season, having won last year's World Championship, and then racking up multiple Grand Prix wins and as many as 88 pro points. Carvalho has also had a great 2015-2016 season, but his resume dates back to a Top 8 at the 2005 World Championships and a Top 8 at Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
In Game 1, Carvalho was on the play with an excellent curve: Sylvan Advocate on turn one, Reflector Mage on turn two, and Collected Company on turns four and five. Even though one Company got countered by Clash of Wills and the other merely hit a single Noose Constrictor, Carvalho was still far ahead on the battlefield.
Manfield had stumbled a bit as he had not been able to spend his mana on turn three. What's more, his deck lacked good ways to come back from behind. One of the few ways for Manfield to claw back from a poor position would be via Nebelgast Herald plus a string of Spirits, but Carvalho had the perfect answer: Spell Queller countered Nebelgast Herald, and Carvalho was able to set up a lethal attack.
Manfield had a better start in Game 2, with Selfless Spirit on turn two, Collected Company into double Spell Queller on turn four, and Collected Company into Selfless Spirit and Reflector Mage on turn five.
While Carvalho was here as the 2015-16 Draft Master, he was proving he was no slouch in Constructed today as well.
Reflector Mage bounced Carvalho's Noose Constrictor, which he had left on defense in the hope of blocking one of Manfield's fliers, but that plan did not work out for him. Manfield swung in with his fliers and firmly took the lead in the damage race.
The final nail in the coffin was Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Carvalho was trying to race back on the ground, but Tamiyo locked down two creatures for two turns in a row, ensuring that Manfield came out ahead in the damage race.
For the final game, Carvalho got to be on the play, which both players were more than aware of.
"I was really happy to win the die roll. I think it's really important," Carvalho mentioned.
"You can choose to draw," Manfield laughed.
"Not this game," Carvalho replied. "I'll start."
In part due to being on the play, Carvalho had the better board by the end of his fifth turn: He had Krallenhorde Howler, Sylvan Advocate, and Reflector Mage on the battlefield, while Manfield was staring at a lone Selfless Spirit and had missed his fourth land drop.
The reigning world champion attempts to battle his way out of some mana stumbles.
In fact, Manfield missed his land drop on turn five as well and simply passed the turn, discarding to hand size. Sure, he left Spell Queller mana up, but Carvalho was able to cast Duskwatch Recruiter and win the counter-war with Clash of Wills, progressing his board while denying Manfield any advancement.
The only way Manfield could get back was by drawing a land and hitting a good Collected Company. He did draw a land, but then the top of his library revealed…six more lands, and exactly the ones that he would have liked to see on turns four and five.
It must have stung a bit, but Manfield stayed sportsmanlike as always, extended his hand in defeat, and wished his opponent good luck for tomorrow.
"I expected to do well in the draft rounds. I wasn't so sure about Constructed," Carvalho told me afterwards. "But this feels good!"
Márcio Carvalho joins Brian Braun-Duin as the two 6-1 players on top of the standings at the end of Day 1!
Márcio Carvalho defeats Seth Manfield 2-1.