Scotland always does well at the World Magic Cup, having never missed Day Two at this event. What's more, they play with pride, they play with passion, and they play in kilts. This year was no different. In fact, they are now the only country to have retained a pristine 100% Day Two conversion rate at the World Magic Cup since its inception in 2012.
Team Scotland 2017: Duncan Tang, Bradley Barclay, and Stephen Murray
This year's Scottish team featured two long-serving members in team captain Bradley Barclay and National champion Stephen Murray. Over the last five years, the Scottish team has always included at least one of them.
They were joined this year by first-timer Duncan Tang. He came close to qualifying eight or nine times previously, became known as Scotland's WMCQ end boss, and finally clinched his spot at this year's Nationals: "When I won my semifinal match, my friends all jumped on me."
Our video crew visited the Scots earlier this week to check in on their preparation. You can meet the team, see what they have to say, and come away with all of the feels in this video.
This morning, after they faced disaster in the first stage of pool play, I sat down with the Scots for a trip down memory lane.
The 2012 World Magic Cup
Team Scotland 2012: Chris Davie, Andrew Morrison, Bradley Barclay, and Stephen Murray
"The first one we obviously Top 8'd, which was amazing," Bradley Barclay reminisced. "All the shops and all of Facebook were buzzing about Scotland succeeding and doing really well."
What stands out in the team photo is Stephen Murray's kilt. "This is the same one," he said while pointing at his outfit today. "It's a Murray family tartan—you don't change it." Murray's kilt started a tradition, and many Scottish team members would follow his lead in the years to come.
The 2013 World Magic Cup
Team Scotland 2013: Jamie Ross, Bradley Barclay, Stephen Murray, Alan Hutton
In 2013, Barclay and Murray again made it on the team, but they didn't advance further than the Top 32. Tang, who was watching coverage from home that year, had one particular memory from this event.
"Scotland got a feature match where Alan played Volatile Rig," he said. "That started a tradition where Spellbound Games, one of the stores we had in Glasgow, got the players to sign their signature card that they played on camera, and the scorekeeper would start putting them on the shop." It wouldn't be the only card to that a Scottish team member was asked to sign.
The 2014 World Magic Cup
Team Scotland 2014: Liam Friel, Bradley Barclay, Stuart Ravenshear, Thomas Robinson
In 2014, the World Magic Cup was held in Nice, in exactly the same venue as the players were in right now. Just like today, however, the Scots didn't advance further than the Top 32.
"That was the first time an English person was on the team," Barclay mentioned, referring to Thomas Robinson. Robinson had apparently just moved to Scotland at that point, where he was welcomed by a Magic community where everyone knows everyone.
Tang chipped in: "That's one of the best things about the Scottish Magic community—every time anyone moves in, they're Scottish for life at that point," citing examples of how people kept supporting Scotland even after moving out of the country.
The 2015 World Magic Cup
Team Scotland 2015: Grant Hislop, Ray Doyle, Stephen Murray, and Martin Clement
In 2015, the Scots wore traditional kilts as a team and made it back to the Top 8. "The win-and-in match against Greece was a nail-biting one," Murray remembered. "Martin Clement suggested at a particular turn to manifest pre-combat in case it's a Mantis Rider, and that got us to the Top 8." Naturally, a signed Mantis Rider could be found at Spellbound Games after the event.
"When they did make Top 8, we had arranged for some people to go to Spellbound to just watch it," Tang added. "There were people with a couple of flags and a couple of scarfs. At some point, we were losing a good bit to the Italians in the Top 8; they played a Collected Company and had a miss—you can imagine what the shop was like. There were maybe about 30-35 people, and the viewing was spectacular."
The 2016 World Magic Cup
Team Scotland 2016: Marc Ferguson, Brandon Balfour, Stephen Murray, Kevin Pass
Last year, Team Scotland made Day Two again. Although they lost their elimination match on Saturday right away, it still counted as a Day Two. And for the Scots, the mere opportunity to compete on Saturday held a lot of value. As Murray said, " I would trade the capability of going to solo Pro Tours for going World Magic Cups because it's such an excellent tournament."
The Secret to their Success
The Scots managed to make Day Two of the World Magic Cup every single time—the only country to have done so. Was there something different about their community or their preparation? What's their secret?
"I feel that the secret to making Day Two is the way the community works," Barclay answered. "The Nationals and the World Magic Cup Qualifiers are so important that people will try hard, and decent players rise to the top. The Scottish community has pegged up all these tournaments, and it means that everyone comes out. Because we keep making Day Two, everyone wants the team to do well."
"Another nice thing is that after Nationals or WMCQs, we have Scottish store championships," Murray chimed in. At this event, most of the stores in Scotland would send a team to compete along with the Scottish National team. "It's for the glory of the store that wins, and for the National team it's a good way to get used to playing next to your teammates and to try out some things. The Scottish National team always gets destroyed, but we always learn something."
Next year, the Scots will naturally try to keep their unique track record intact. "We'll make Day Two, make sure that we're ahead of the field, and I'll be captain," Tang laughed. His prediction might just come true, especially given that he was currently leading the Scottish Pro Point race, but Bradley and Murray would surely do their best to re-qualify as well. After all, for the Scots, the World Magic Cup is the greatest event of the year, and they will never give it any less than 100%.