4 Lessons from the 2018 World Magic Cup

The Result

The very last World Magic Cup was held over the weekend in Barcelona, with players from 74 countries spread across all the far-flung corners of the globe converging on Spain to seek fame and glory for their homelands. The formats were Guilds of Ravnica Team Sealed and Team Unified Standard, which typically resulted in trios of Adanto VanguardCrackling DrakeCarnage Tyrant.

The Top 8 featured some huge names in international Magic, with Andrea Mengucci snagging a fourth consecutive WMC Top 8 for both himself and his native Italy. Newly minted Hall-of-Famer Lee Shi Tian led Hong Kong to Sunday, while Ken Yukuhiro and Ivan Floch did the same for Japan and Slovakia, respectively. Shahar Shenhar helped the Israeli team make it all the way to the final, but they met their match there.

Ultimately, France beat out all competitors, bagging a second WMC championship. Jean-Emmanuel Depraz, Arnaud Hocquemiller, and Timothée Jammot took down the tournament in style, with Hocquemiller’s wild take on Jeskai Control turning heads all weekend. Congratulations to France, the final champions of the World Magic Cup!

The Moments

Arnaud Hocquemiller aids the Japanese space program by blasting Naoya Nanba into the stratosphere, copying a kicked Fight with Fire:

Shahar Shenhar with the sick brag over Israel’s 4-0 start to the tournament:

Hocquemiller is back at it again, this time double-Ionizing an uncounterable spell to win with a Ral emblem:

South Africa and Guatemala join regulars Scotland and Mexico in taking out the spirit awards:

Timothée Jammot claims the trophy for France with a March of the Multitudes into Flower // Flourish:

The Deck

Note: this handy translation guide may be of some use.

The thunder from down under was brought by Benaya Lia, Matthew Garnham, and captain David Mines, with the Australian team romping and stomping their way to the Top 8. These Aussie battlers put in some fair dinkum hard yakka this weekend, and I was like a frog in a sock when it all finally came the raw prawn in the quarters against Italy.

I was stoked to see the list that old mate Garnham gave a burl at the tournament, as Turbo Fog had previously been a grouse strategy that had mostly carked it since rotation. Garno was kicking goals with both feet, fully getting up and about with the classic combo of Nexus of Fate and the big fella himself, Teferi.

Turbo Fog

Matthew Garnham, Top 8 at the 2018 World Magic Cup

For the most part, this Turbo Fog list doesn’t change much about the original, pre-rotation list—it’s all about resolving and protecting Teferi before eventually stringing together enough card draw per turn that you can find and cast Nexus of Fate forever, effectively never giving your opponent another turn. From there, it’s a simple process of winning with Karn tokens or milling them out with Teferi.

The loss of Haze of Pollen was a real blow for this archetype, and Pause for Reflection isn’t a particularly effective replacement. The real innovation here is Uncomfortable Chill, which is an effective Fog against most of the go-wide aggro decks of the format that—critically—replaces itself. Other newer cards in the list include Discovery // Dispersal, which offers an early way to smooth out draws while also interacting with cards like Carnage Tyrant in the late game, with Gift of Paradise providing black mana.

Is Turbo Fog going to make a comeback in Standard? Australia’s Top 8 result has definitely put the deck back on the radar, and in the coming weeks it may very well be worth investigating whether there’s life yet in the archetype.

The Takeaway

This team tournament crystallized the three “best” decks in the format quite clearly, or at least, the three pillars of the format. Adanto Vanguard and friends continue to run the tables when it comes to being aggressive—white-based aggro was the clear favorite above red-based aggro (although Izzet/Jeskai wanting Lava Coil may have had something to do with that, in fairness).

It wasn’t just white and red aggro that sought to go wide, however, Selesnya Tokens took a while to get off the ground, but is now established as a proper contender. March of the Multitudes and Flower // Flourish provide a hell of a late game, and Emmara, Soul of the Accord is a powerful engine that starts the snowball effect very early indeed. No matter the play style, aggressive white decks will find use for Adanto Vanguard. Make sure you have an answer to it.

Golgari Midrange continues to survive as the perennial safe choice for anyone looking to get it done in Standard. It’s difficult to do too much wrong with this list, as the combination of value creatures and independently powerful support cards means that you’ll generally have game against anything and everything. Previously, we saw a point at which the industry standard was four Carnage Tyrants and four Find // Finality, and we may be circling back to that point. Golgari is still enormously popular online, so having a way to break the mirror is critical.

Finally, Crackling Drake generally comes in one of two archetypes: Izzet Drakes, where it synergizes beautifully with Arclight Phoenix, and Jeskai Control, where it’s a mid-sized threat that can help bridge to the late game (or just win on its own in short order once things are locked up). The numbers seemed to favor Izzet Drakes this weekend—we’ve all woken up to Arclight Phoenix, and no one is making the mistake of underestimating the card any more. Still, don’t count Jeskai out—the deck is still excellent, and Niv-Mizzet stands to win many more matches (and probably tournaments).

Many people were disappointed with the announcement that this year’s World Magic Cup would be the last, as the top-level Magic tournaments shift around Wizards’ big Esports push. Nonetheless, this weekend was a fitting send-off, and I’m sure there will be no lack of high-level tournament excitement in 2019!

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