Top Stories of the 2017 World Championship

Posted in Event Coverage on October 8, 2017

By Frank Karsten and Blake Rasmussen

With 24 of the 2016–17 season's very best Magic players, a $100,000 prize for the newly crowned World Champion, and the conclusion of the inaugural Pro Tour Team Series, we saw the pinnacle of competitive Magic this weekend. The following ones are our picks for the things to remember from the 2017 World Championship.

William "Huey" Jensen Starts the Tournament at 7-0, then 12-0

One of the biggest stories from this weekend was how William Jensen steamrolled past the competition, locking up his berth in the Top 4 before anyone else. In astounding fashion, he started off the tournament at 12-0. At that point, the closest competition was four matches behind!

One possible reason for his success was that the tournament was in a special location for him. As he grew up in Boston, he felt right at home, and many of his family members came to the tournament venue to cheer him on.

Another reason might be that he came with the right Temur Energy deck. As Standard specialist Brad Nelson described, "Peach Garden Oath came with a very teched-out version with Essence Scatter, Commit // Memory, Torrential Gearhulk, and Confiscation Coup. They have the highest density of answers to The Scarab God that are also applicable in the Temur mirror, which is genius. I think it's really well thought-out for this tournament. They came with the deck."

carab Godthat are also applicable in the Temur mirror, which is genius. I think it's really well thought-out for this tournament. They came with the deck."

William Jensen's Temur Energy – 2017 World Championship

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But arguably the biggest driver of Jensen's success was his dedication and preparation. He tested a lot for this event: He started preparing five weeks ago, and he played about ten hours a day for almost literally every single day. His teammate Reid Duke claimed that he had never seen anyone test as hard for the tournament as Jensen had been testing for his one. It was good to see that hard work paid off.

Blue-Black Control Takes Two Spots in the Top 4

One of the new additions to Ixalan Standard that posted an excellent result at this event was Blue-Black Control. It was the deck chosen by the trio of Sam Black, Gerry Thompson, and Josh Utter-Leyton, and Kelvin Chew independently registered a very similar version as well. Utter-Leyton and Chew piloted the deck to Top 4 finishes, and although both of them lost in the quarterfinals, it was still the most-represented deck in the Top 4.

Josh Utter-Leyton's Blue-Black Control – 2017 World Championship

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The game plan of the deck largely revolves around Search for Azcanta, one of the best control enablers in Ixalan. As Utter-Leyton said: "Your ideal opening to the game is to go one-for-one with all their stuff. Turn four you want to play Search for Azcanta with another answer up to counter their thing. From that point, when you have Search for Azcanta on the table and the board is clear, it's really hard to lose. Search flips really quickly in the deck."

Indeed, with all the cyclers and cheap interaction, it is pretty easy to get to seven cards in your graveyard. The transformation is effectively a Rampant Growth, which is an absurd effect for blue decks, and the activated ability on Azcanta, The Sunken Ruin yields long-game inevitability engine.

If you'd like to learn more, then this Deck Guide has more detail.

Great Plays All Weekend

When you put 24 of the 2016–17 season's very best Magic players in one room, you're bound to see a lot of good Magic being played. What exemplified this for me were the numerous times where players used their cards in unusual ways.

  • Confiscation Coup
  • Harnessed Lightning
  • Abrade
  • Vampire's Zeal

Reid Duke cast Confiscation Coup on his own Bristling Hydra; Owen Turtenwald and William Jensen both pointed Harnessed Lightning at their own creatures; Eric Froehlich and Javier Dominguez Abraded their own creature; and Kelvin Chew played Vampire's Zeal on his opponent's creature.

And these were just a selection of things we witnessed on camera!

Now, there were good reasons behind all these plays. For instance, gaining enough energy to boost Bristling Hydra or Longtusk Cub and shave a turn off the clock, or countering the life gain from Vraska's Contempt. Or, in Chew's case, turning on the Legion's Judgment in his hand.

Yet, to veterans, these plays didn't even feel all that unusual. They had all done it numerous times before, and they made their decisions with the confidence and authority that resides with the true masters of the game.

Musashi Becomes the Inaugural Team Series Champion

At the end of the 2016-17 season, teams Musashi and Genesis sat atop the leaderboard. They include an impressive suite of players: Musashi is comprised of Kentaro Yamamoto, Yuuya Watanabe, Ken Yukuhiro, Yuuki Ichikawa, Teruya Kakumae, and Shota Yasooka, while Genesis includes Brad Nelson, Lukas Blohon, Seth Manfield, Thomas Hendriks, Martin Dang, and Martin Müller.

To decide who would hoist the trophy for the inaugural Team Series competition, they faced off in a finals dubbed the Team Series Championship this weekend.

The format was two 3v3 Ixalan Team Sealed matches, and the first match was won by Genesis. The most memorable game was between Lukas Blohon and Shota Yasooka, where Blohon drew seven cards with Overflowing Insight and didn't even have to discard.

Click Here to See Clip!

The second match was won by Musashi. Martin Dang came tantalizingly close to taking the match and hence the championship for Genesis, but even a Wakening Sun's Avatar with a Sunbird's Invocation trigger didn't provide a way to deal with Shining Aerosaur.

Click Here to See Clip!

With both teams taking one match each, a tiebreak match was needed to decide who would be crowned champions. The games were hard-fought, featuring complicated combat steps and timely combat tricks, but ultimately Ichikawa's Deadeye Plunderers attacked for the decisive final points of damage.

Click Here to See Clip!

William "Huey" Jensen Wins the 2017 Magic World Championship

There are a lot of well-liked, good people on the Pro Tour—but few are as respected, loved, and celebrated as much as William Jensen, and when he picked up the final win of an astounding World Championship run, an entire room filled with his peers erupted in cheers of joy as the longtime Pro hoisted his first World Championship trophy.

The celebration online was just as immediate.

But the road there wasn't easy, even if he made it look easy after that 12-0 start.

His first loss was to Kelvin Chew. His second was to Javier Dominguez. If those names sound familiar, that's because those are exactly the two players in exactly that order Jensen had to go through in the Top 4 to pick up his trophy.

First, against Chew, Jensen used his few precious counterspells to keep the Blue-Black Control player off balance all match. The games went back and forth, but, ultimately, Chew couldn't gain the traction he needed to fend off Jensen.

But the real nail-biter was against Dominguez, whose Ramunap Red list was feasting on others at the top tables all Saturday and through his 3-0 trouncing of Josh Utter-Leyton in the semifinals. Generally, Ramunap Red is favored in the first game against Temur Energy—and in a best-of-five matchup, Dominguez would get to start with two pre-sideboarded games.

But then something happened—Jensen pulled out Game 1.

He fell in Game 2, and then found himself facing a lethal attack in Game 3. But that old Jensen magic (er, Magic) came through, as the vulnerability he showed was mere feint, showing a timely Magma Spray that kept him alive and stole the momentum right back. Suddenly, Jensen found himself a game away from the pinnacle of the sport.

Then came a strange one. Dominguez leapt out to a lead, but did so taking damage from his lands. Jensen made a few attacks to put Dominguez in an awkward spot, but with multiple Ramunap Ruins in play, all Dominuez needed to head to a fifth game was a Mountain, a Shock, a Lightning Strike, or a Chandra.

He drew none of those.

"You should have been in my head for that 30 seconds," Jensen said afterwards.

But you really wanted to be in his head for the 30 seconds after that—while he realized he had won the World Championship in his hometown of Boston.

"Every interview I did, I told everyone that's really why I wanted to win this specific tournament."

After his victory, Jensen thanked everyone.

"First, Owen and Reid. Without those guys, I wouldn't be half the Magic player I am today. The rest of my teammates, special thanks to Ben Rubin and Andrew Cuneo."

He went on to thank friends, teammates, and family. Especially family. Because as he raised the trophy and held aloft his check for $100,000, there, with his arm around him and a grin on his face, was Jensen's father, who had been here all weekend.

Watching his son become the Magic: The Gathering World Champion for 2017.

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