Modern Rounds Overview

Posted in 2015 MAGIC ONLINE CHAMPIONSHIP on May 15, 2016

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The final four rounds of Swiss—all Modern—featured some surprising deck choices, but none quite as shocking as Sam Black's Temur Traverse deck. The three-color control deck uses popular mainstays of the color combination, such as Lightning Bolt, Tarmogoyf, and Snapcaster Mage alongside new entries Traverse the Ulvenwald and Tireless Tracker.

In the fourteenth and final round of Swiss, Black found himself at 7-6. Normally, this record would be out of contention, but given the unusual nature of the weekend, he found himself in a position where he could sneak in to the Top 4 if he could beat the opponent he was paired up against: Jonathan Anghelescu, who was sitting at 24 points.

Sam Black

Anghelescu has been proving his skill across multiple formats all weekend. While Legacy was his definitive specialty, his tournament had gone rather well elsewhere. He found himself in a position where a win would lock him for Top 4, and a loss still gave him a reasonable shot regardless, should the other 24 point player—Niels Noorlander—lose in his final match.

The first game had Black behind on Tarmogoyf advantage, as Anghelescu was able to leverage the many card types Black was putting in the graveyard to put on early pressure. Finding himself behind on life and on legitimate threats, Black was dispatched in the first game.

The second game was no better, as Black found himself fighting against an army of creatures, including two Voice of Resurgence. Kessig Wolf Run from Anghelescu gave him the driver's seat to dictate the pace of the game, and when Black's Traverse the Ulvenwald turned up no options, Black offered his opponent the handshake.

Jonathan Anghelescu

The win locked Anghelescu in the Top 4. Alexander Ivanov, however, who was already locked for Top 4, lost his match playing for seeding against Mitchell Manders, who made quite a run to get up to 21 match points. That brought Manders up to 24 in what was one of the most impressive runs from the bottom to the top in this tournaments.

However, there were two things that would need to break well for Manders for a shot at Top 4:

  • His friend and fellow competitor Niels Noorlander needs to lose against Gerry Thompson to get knocked out of a chance at 27 match points. His tiebreakers were lower than Manders and he would lose out on those with a loss in the final round.
  • Peter Yeh, who also won his Round 14 match, would need to not leap him in tiebreakers in this one round. Manders had a sliver of a lead in the standings headed into the final round of Swiss.

Noorlander's match against Thompson went to three games, with the match and the outcome of Noorlander's tournament life coming down to one attack during one turn with Inkmoth Nexus. Noorlander had to go for a poison victory, casting Become Immense on his Nexus. Thompson responded with an Izzet Staticaster activation, which Noorland attempted to counter with a Pendelhaven activation.

When Thompson went for Lightning Bolt on the Nexus, Noorlander cast Vines of Vastwood. Thompson cracked a fetch land, tapped two mana...and conceded the game. Noorlander let out a cry of happiness.

"That was not good for my heart," Noorlander said, continuing to breathe huge sighs of relief as he signed the match slip.

With that win, the Top 4 was locked. Congratulations to Jonathan Anghelescu, Gerry Thompson, Alexander Ivanov, and Niels Noorslander. One of these four competitors would be crowned the Magic Online Champion.

And in a day, we'll know who that is.