With Christmas Eve of Magic, the World Magic Cup, right around the corner several teams have made their way to Strasbourg. Here they gather to practice, discuss and travel together to Nice next week. New alliances are formed, others are vitalized and the trend for this year seems to be that several teams are preparing together for the event. Denmark are collaborating with Israel, Norway are friends with Hungary and the Belgian team, lead by Nicolas Vanderhallen have gathered forces with The Netherlands.
"It started with Mark (Dictus) contacting Frank Karsten to see if they wanted to work with us", says Vanderhallen.
Since the neighboring countries have worked together in the past, and most of the Belgians even speak Dutch, Karsten was quick to accept. After discussing deck options and strategies online for several weeks the teams finally got together for an intense weekend of testing.
"We played team sealed against The Netherlands all weekend. And now everyone is here in Strasbourg. Most of us are going back to Belgium and then we all go to Nice on Thursday", Vanderhallen says.
When asked about the Belgian chances, Vanderhallen and Dictus have their minds set to do at least as good as the Belgian team last year. "We made top 8 last year, so it would be a disappointment not to do as well this time", says Mark Dictus, who admits to having played several World Championships, but will be competing at the World Magic Cup for the first time.
Another classic collaboration is the German/Austrian alliance. This year their captains also happen to be friends and traveling buddies Patrick Dickmann and Valentin Mackl. So working together for the World Magic Cup was an easy decision, according to Mackl. "I know Patrick Dickmann pretty well, and neither of us are really into playtesting, so we are hoping that some of our other six team members are," he says with a smile.
Like many others, the Germans and Austrians plan to put their testing on full speed once in Nice on Monday. Although they have tested standard individually, Mackl explains that they haven't gotten together to tackle the team sealed format yet.
"I probably shouldn't say this, but we haven't started yet. But I hope there will be plenty of time in Nice," he says.