Top Stories of the 2017 World Magic Cup

Posted in Event Coverage on December 3, 2017

By Corbin Hosler and Frank Karsten

The 2017 World Magic Cup had been full of memorable stories, heartwarming displays of teamwork in action, exciting matches, and interesting decks doing interesting things. The following are our picks that made this an event to remember.

The Underdog Dragons defeated the U.S. Super-Team

Wales stole the heart of viewers and competitors alike with their dragon-themed onesies to celebrate the Welsh flag, and their win-and-in match against Team USA in Saturday's final round was one of the most memorable matches from the weekend. At a key moment, Philip Griffiths had already lost his set of games to Oliver Tomajko, which meant that Sam Rolph and Aaron Boyhan, each tied at one game apiece, had to win both of their matches. And they did so in a spectacular way.

Boyhan clinched the win by beautifully navigating a nail-biter against Pro Tour champion Gerry Thompson, which involved so many Hostage Takers that even The Scarab God forgot who was the hostage and who was the captor. Then Sam Rolph showed the power of Deadeye Tracker against U.S. captain Reid Duke and his White-Blue Gift deck. Suddenly, the underdog had upset the powerhouse team.

Wales eventually fell to Poland in the quarterfinals, but they still did a phenomenal job and made the Welsh Magic community very proud.

White-Blue Cycling and Four-Color Control Are for Real

This weekend's key additions to the Standard metagame were White-Blue Cycling and Four-Color Control.

Piotr Glogowski's White-Blue Cycling – 2nd at the 2017 World Magic Cup

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The majority of the 73 teams in attendance included a white-blue deck in their Unified Standard configuration to avoid overlap with their Hazoret the Fervent deck and their Attune with Aether deck. Surprisingly, however, seventeen of them opted for Drake Haven rather than God-Pharaoh's Gift or Approach of the Second Sun in their Glacial Fortress deck. One of them was Piotr Glogowski, who made it to the finals as a member of team Poland.

Basically, it's a control deck that relies on Settle the Wreckage or Fumigate to beat the creature decks in the format. Thanks to all the cyclers in the deck, it's easy to find the sweepers consistently. The big advantage of the deck is that the win condition costs three mana instead of seven, allowing Drake Haven to get in underneath most answers. This mana difference is particularly important when opponents try to counter your plans with Negate after sideboard, and it worked out well for Glogowski in particular.

Marc Tobiasch's Four-Color Control – Top 4 at the 2017 World Magic Cup

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Four out of the 73 teams showed up with Four-Color Control or Blue-Black Control. All four made the Top 8. As it turned out, in a field where most teams ran an energy deck, a red aggro deck, and a white-blue deck, Torrential Gearhulk and Vraska's Contempt still make for a powerful core, no matter whether you paid them with Essence Extraction and Search for Azcanta (as Mattia Rizzi and Sam Rolph did) or with Attune with Aether and Whirler Virtuoso (as Marc Tobiasch and Elias Klocker did).

The German/Austrian Four-Color Control deck in particular was a refreshing take on the energy mechanic that could easily go over the top against other energy lists.

A Global Game for Everyone

Although the competition and the best choice of three Standard decks for the expected metagame took center stage this weekend, the World Magic Cup also shows that Magic is a global game. With 73 countries competing, it was truly a celebration of all things Magic from around the world.

For many of the countries taking part, this is far and away the most important weekend of the calendar, with national pride taking a front role. For most of the teams—especially the ones from smaller communities—the Cup offers an opportunity to represent an entire nation of Magic players at the biggest stage, and some of them made their fans back home very proud with breakthrough performances. The World Magic Cup is the first premier level event many of the participants from smaller countries have ever competed in, and it's a whole new world for players used to not playing in anything larger than their local FNM.

Just ask Panama's Jaime Soriano Salazar, who was playing outside of his home store for the first time ever and made the most of it by defeating the United States in the very first round of the tournament.

"Yeah, I guess I could get used to this," he laughed, a slow grin spreading across his face.

The other thing that the World Magic Cup in particular showcases is just how inclusive the game can be. Players of all nationalities gathered together for a weekend, and though they have different customs and spoke different languages, the laughs came easy and the games were friendly as everyone appreciated the unique opportunities and community that Magic makes possible.


Team Italy Nearly Repeats

Along with Slovakia and Austria, the Italian national team found themselves in their third World Magic Cup Top 8. Even more impressively, Italy made their third a row!

In 2015, Italy took home the trophy. In 2016, they fell in the semifinals. This year, Mattia Rizzi and Andrea Mengucci returned from their 2015 squad, now joined by Adriano Moscato. If they had won out today, Italy would have become the first ever country to win the World Magic Cup more than once.

But it was not to be. In the quarterfinals, they defeated team China, who found success at the World Magic Cup for the first time, hinting at a rise in Chinese Magic, but were still no match for Italy. Then, in the semifinals, despite the Italians playing their hearts out, they fell to Japan's all-star team.

The Japanese powerhouse takes the crown

Before the kickoff of the World Magic Cup, there were a few teams everyone had on their shortlist of teams to win, such as the United States, Brazil, and of course, Italy with their impressive consistency at this event.

But none were higher on that list than Japan. Their team featured 1,195 lifetime Pro Points combined, which is just a staggering number. Most of those came from Yuuya Watanabe and Shota Yasooka, the two Hall of Famers on the team, but their National Champion Kenta Harane also contributed 69 points in the Pro Tours and Grand Prix that he has been able to play in. To put that into perspective: there are only 25 players in the entire history of the game who had collected more lifetime Pro Points than team Japan's average. The Japanese squad was easily the top contender for the best team in the room.

And they knew it.

"I knew we had a good team, so I was 50% sure we would win," Watanabe explained.

Not all the super-teams found the same success. Brazil failed to even advance to Day Two, while the United States lost a win-and-in for the Top 8. Italy made the Top 8 but fell in the semifinals, while Japan advanced to a finals match no one was surprised to find them in. And, playing against an upstart Poland team that had been beating super-teams all weekend long, it came down to the control master Yasooka himself, playing a deck no one surprised to see him play.

Ramunap Red.

Wait, what?

Well, whatever. Yasooka made it look like control anyway, cashing in a Bomat Courier for eight cards in the deciding game, using the full grip of cards he drew from the one-drop to feed Hazoret the Fervent and deal the final points of damage against Poland that delivered Japan the title of World Magic Cup champions.


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