With 24 of the world's best players packed into a single tournament, we saw top-level Magic in every single match. Let's dive into some highlights of today's Twitch stream.
Round 1: William Jensen shows just how aggressive Dinosaurs can be
Ixalan Limited can be fast. Attacks for 4 on the ground or 3 in the air happened as early as turn two...in Limited! And not just once! Indeed, in the very first game of the tournament, Samuel Black had the totally absurd curve of Kumena's Speaker into River Heralds' Boon, and Christian Calcano went 3-0 with a deck that regularly played Blight Keeper on turn one and Swashbuckling on turn two.
But I like fast starts even better when they are combined with mana efficiency. The casters were also amazed when they saw how William Jensen deployed five mana worth of Dinosaurs on turn three.
It was a good start for Jensen, who would eventually finish the draft portion at 3-0 and lead the field at the end of the day.
Round 2: An exciting finish and a well-executed bluff
The first game between Reid Duke and Christian Calcano was a nail-biter. At some point, Duke attacked with his only creature in an attempt to win the game on the next turn, but since he was down to 2 life against Calcano's quadruple Swashbuckling deck, this was risky business.
Calcano indeed had a creature plus Swashbuckling, attacked for what might have been the win, but Duke had a surprise blocker to come out ahead after all. Despite going through a rollercoaster of emotions, Calcano could do nothing but smile at the way that game ended.
In the next game, Calcano got his revenge. With a stone-cold bluff, he got two free points of damage and a raid trigger, which ultimately mattered quite a bit. Like Jensen, Calcano would eventually clinch the pristine 3-0 draft record.
Round 3: Storm Sculptor has many uses
There are various ways to get around Storm Sculptor's drawback. Josh Utter-Leyton was the final 3-0 drafter, and he got there by employing Storm Sculptor to re-use Watertrap Weaver's enters-the-battlefield ability.
Meanwhile, Javier Dominguez showed against William Jensen that you can also just tap it to crew a vehicle before bouncing itself.
I love it when cards are used in unusual ways.
Round 4: Search for Azcanta makes its presence known
Out of 24 World Championship competitors, five (about 21%) registered U/B or Grixis Control. All of these decks were based around a card that commentator Luis Scott-Vargas deemed "one of the best cards from Ixalan" and that is Search for Azcanta.
Fittingly, in the very first game of Standard shown on camera, Search for Azcanta came right away for control master Shota Yasooka. If you're planning to play Ixalan Standard, you'd better familiarize yourself with this powerful new enchantment.
Round 5: Reid Duke casts Confiscation Coup on his own creature
Five mana to gain control of an opponent's best card is a good deal, which is why Reid Duke (who was playing Temur Energy) put two Confiscation Coup in his main deck. But the card also has a "hidden mode": simply gain 4 energy. It's not a great deal, but sometimes the game calls for it. And that's exactly what happened when Duke targeted his own Bristling Hydra. Even more astonishingly, William Jensen Negated it!
To top it all off, this wasn't even the first Confiscation Coup played that game. Only a few minutes earlier, another one was countered by Jensen, burning his own creature rather than giving it over to Duke.
Round 6: Eric Froehlich Abrades his own creature
When you hear that people are stealing their own creatures or killing their own creatures, you must either be watching the worst players in the game or the best players in the game. Well, these were the best—they are familiar with even the most niche interactions, and they know when they should use cards in unorthodox ways.
Kelvin Chew's U/B Control deck contained multiple life-gaining spells, and in fact he won Game 2 at as much as 18 life after casting multiple Essence Scatter and multiple Vraska's Contempt. However, these cards don't provide full value when they don't resolve.
Round 7: Jensen is not afraid to spin the wheel
In a near mirror match between two masters of the game, the key card at the start of Game 1 was Brad Nelson's Chandra, Torch of Defiance. She got up to seven loyalty and threatened to go ultimate, but William Jensen had an answer: He put Chandra second from the top with Commit // Memory, and he timed it perfectly by casting his instant during Nelson's draw step.
Two turns later, with Chandra now lurking on the top of Nelson’s deck and the board at parity, Jensen had a tough choice to make. He could cast Memory from his graveyard to shuffle Chandra away, but this would also give Nelson a first crack at a new hand of seven cards.
Jensen decided to take the risk, and it paid off for him. His new hand matched up well against Nelson's new hand, and after some careful maneuvering through interesting game states, Jensen took the first game. As an example of how complicated this game was: when Nelson tried to counter Jensen's Confiscation Coup on The Scarab God by pointing Harnessed Lightning at his own God, Jensen responded by Magma Spraying it, ultimately leading to an exiled God.
These were the plays that ultimately gave the match win to Jensen, who ended the day at an impressive 7-0 record. Number two in the standings is only at 5-2, two matches behind Jensen.
The Hall of Famer is leading the field by a mile. He can sleep well tonight. But tune back in tomorrow for seven more rounds of action from the 2017 World Championship!